Three GRAEF Projects Place Among ACEC WI 2024 Engineering Excellence Awards

The American Council of Engineering Companies of Wisconsin (ACEC WI) has named three GRAEF projects in this year's Engineering Excellence Awards. The Engineering Excellence Awards highlight the best of the best in professional engineering. It recognizes and celebrates engineering achievements that demonstrate the highest degree of skill and ingenuity.

The named projects highlight exceptional engineering designs that significantly contribute to our quality of life.

Best of State: Komatsu South Harbor Campus 

Komatsu Mining Corporation was on a quest to develop a new U.S.-based headquarters for its operations. When looking at Milwaukee, the company saw major potential – an attractive location near Lake Michigan, a huge amount of available space and an opportunity to employ over 1,000 local workers. But this vision hinged on a team’s ability to properly prepare the site and build a new energy-efficient building. Developing the site, designated as a brownfield site with generations of contamination, posed the first challenge. The team addressed subsurface rubble and ran modeling to determine the best place to site foundations and utilities. This work continued through construction as site conditions changed, requiring quick thinking and adaptability on an accelerated schedule.

Komatsu wanted an innovative, energy efficient building with a statement design. The team installed a solar array, wind spires that would capture wind energy and major water capture and reuse systems. The campus is expected to use 75 percent less electricity and 80 percent less water than its former headquarters.

 “The Komatsu South Harbor project is the definition of what a collaborative design team can accomplish even with major challenges ahead of them.  The engineering team was committed to transforming a brownfield site into a state of-the-art 21st century corporate office and manufacturing facility," awards judge Wesley Reynolds said.

Despite encountering these challenges, the project triumphantly reached completion. The new facility embodies innovation and sustainability, effectively fulfilling Komatsu's operational requirements for the present and the long term. This cutting-edge headquarters is set to leave a lasting impact on Milwaukee and the surrounding region.

State Finalist: River Trail School Urban Forest

River Trail School of Agriculture and Science, nestled in Milwaukee's Northwest side, embodies a commitment to agricultural sciences education for approximately 400 K-8 students The forest started as a dream for staff who have worked for nearly a decade to build environmental programming at the school. Fueled by new grant funding, the school could take its agricultural science education to the next level.

GRAEF excitedly took on the project to create a self-sustaining urban forest on school grounds. The team worked with the client to find underutilized land to rehabilitate. This urban forest stands as a testament to innovation, sustainability, and community-driven education.

State Finalist: STH 23 Improvements: USH 151 to Taft Road

STH 23 has long been a major safety and flow concern for the area and the state. Increasing traffic demand mixed with a plethora of different use conditions, ranging from rural stretches to school drop-off and into an urban setting. The corridor was in dire need of a smart design solution.

GRAEF’s primary focus was safety. The new, wider 4-lane highway replaces dangerous at-grade crossings with two interchanges to reduce conflicts and potential accidents. A parallel roadway was introduced, improving overall safety. Roundabouts were added to facilitate traffic flow. They are larger than normal to accommodate oversize and overweight vehicles, including massive wind turbine transportation. The safer and more accessible thoroughfare solves longstanding safety and environmental issues while enhancing the overall travel experience.