Walls & Ceilings is honored to present the winners of our seventh annual Excellence Awards contest. The categories awarded this year are Ceilings, Drywall, EIFS/Stucco, ICFs/SIPs, Interior Plaster/Ornamentation and Metal Framing. The entries were judged by a panel of W&C staff members and its editorial advisory board.

We asked each company to submit a profile of the job. In this project description, each company talks about the job and some of the challenges, an overview of the finished product and why they should win.

Congratulations to all the recipients of the awards and to all those that submitted projects.

Interior Plaster/Ornamental

Buffalo Architectural Casting
Private Residence, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Walking along Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, you will come across a modern day palace. From the exterior, one is instantly impressed by the sheer size of this three-story house, each level-lined with balustrades and ornaments as unique as the home. Smaller details, like the hand-sculpted vases, finials, and wall adornment, are stunning as well. Entering the estate, the gold-leafed sculpted ornament on the front gates gleams in the sunlight. Towering two-story columns wrap around house, with capitals reminiscent of ancient Greece.

To the rear of the home, a pool surrounded by tiled walls is a secluded haven in the middle of a dense city. Lion-head fountains return water into the pool, examples of how even the smallest aspect of this building were used as an opportunity to showcase ornate sculpted art.

The interior is equally impressive, with hand-carved friezes adorning entryways, custom cast moldings and sills surrounding the windows and doors, and each wall tastefully covered with gold-leafed ornaments and colorful murals. Ceilings, often overlooked, were highlighted in this project; massive domes and ornamental panels, all accented in gold leafing, draw one’s eyes upward. The cornices wrapping around each room are an elegant addition to this house.

When it came to sculpting and casting the ornamental pieces for this home, Buffalo Architectural Casting’s abilities were needed. This project in particular showcased the talents and techniques less common in today’s modern architecture. From two-dimensional drawings, Buffalo Architectural Casting was able to fabricate custom sculpture. The artists at our studio excel at creating the work for one-of-a-kind projects like this. It is not often that so many elements are combined in one project, or that there are artists experienced enough with plaster to accomplish it. Days were spent on sculpting each frieze, prior to the plaster even being cast. Even the large cast pieces, like columns and balustrades, required individual attention. Imperfections, even small ones, were not acceptable, and quickly rejected and remade by the artists. Once installed, the ornate assembly of details and design makes this building an architecturally significant project.

Project Details:

Project Completion Date: August 2009

Size in overall square footage: 6,500

Initial Project Budget: would not disclose

Final Cost of Project: $399,810 

Developers: KORA Developers


Plaster: USG


Southmost Drywall Inc.
Bonnet Creek Resort Hilton and Convention Center, Orlando, Fla.

Bonnet Creek Resort Hilton and Convention Center is a luxurious 17-story Hilton that has 1,500-plus hotel rooms. The lower floors are lobby and support areas for the Hilton. The lobby, restaurants and hotel bar are loaded with serpentine ceilings. 

The convention center is 250,000 square feet of meeting space with floating, all-thread suspended drywall soffits and huge folding-partition bulkheads dividing the areas.

The convention center, with its meeting rooms and huge hard-ceiling common entry hallways, is unique and was a challenging project. This job was done on a fast-track basis, and most of the work was completed in a one-year period. 

Southmost is proud to have been a part of this fine resort project just outside Disneyworld.

Project Details:

Project Completion Date: 0ctober 2009

Size in overall square footage: 1,000,000 square feet

Project Location: Bonnet Creek Orlando, Fla.

Initial Project Budget: 13,000,000

Final Cost of Project: 13,500,000 

Owner: KUD International

Designer: Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart and Associates

General Contractor: Hunt Construction


Drywall: USG

Metal Framing: ClarkWestern Metal Studs

Insulation: Owens Corning

Ceilings: Armstrong

Firestopping: Hilti  


Jamshar Construction Consultants
Green Home Project, Westampton, N.J.

In 2004, our company Jamshar Construction Consultants was privileged to be one of the first recipients of the “Excellence in Design” Award. The focus was innovative use of drywall in an artistic framework. But five years later, the company has coalesced 20 years of commercial and residential experience along with the artistic and innovative to build a true walls and ceilings project called a “house.” What does the house of the future look like? It will probably look similar to the house you already live in. Except it will be more energy efficient, healthier to live in and last longer. 

This is no ordinary house. When a friend of the owner of Jamshar approached the company to build him a house, the immediate response was yes-as long as it was a green and sustainable home. Within standard construction budget cost, our focus would be to build something we could all be proud of.

Some of the highlights of this special project:
  • Hybrid framing: steel stud, FSC- and SFI-managed wood framing members; RC hattrack for leveling out ceilings.

  • Flex-C Trac formed a dramatic balcony from the master bedroom.

  • Insulation: All thermal and sound attenuation insulation is formaldehyde-free.

  • GWB: National Gypsum wallboard was used because of its high-recycled content. 

  • Trim-Tex: Bullnose cornerbead is a unique feature here in the Northeast but added the challenge/benefit of more dramatic trim work. An archway in the kitchen and the tight balcony bullnose was also formed using Trim-Tex. 

  • Structus Building Technologies: Levelline drywall corner tape was used as a guarantee against crack-free settling walls (which is also vital to maintaining a sealed and airtight envelope).

  • Flooring: Armstrong Certified ISO 14001. Decorative inlays to mirror the Trim-Tex details on the wall. 

What was the final outcome of the third-party verification in regards to this project? Well, the company scored a 56 on the HERS Index for energy use. That means an existing home built prior to 2006 would probably have a score in the mid 100s. A house built in 2006 would have a HERS Index score max of 100. The company cut the energy use almost in half. Jamshar is also certified as an EnergyStar-rated house and Certified Gold Level Green Home from the NAHB Research Center.

Infrared motion detected bath lighting controls, whisper quiet mechanical house ventilation system for controlled fresh air exchange, low VOC paints, adhesives and materials, EnergyStar Advanced Lighting Package are just a few of the highlights of this house. Not to mention the feel good factor:
  • A landfill resource reclamation diversion rate of over 65 percent

  • Reduced the emissions from .49 vehicles

  • Prevented 5,813 pounds of CO² emissions annually

  • Saving 2,964 pounds of coal

  • Planting .81 acres of trees

Project Details

Completion Date: July 2010

Size in overall square footage: 2196

Initial Project Budget: $200,000

Final Cost of Project: $200,000

Project & Contract Manager: Jamshar Construction Consultants

Architect: Kaz Group

Wood Framing: JTM Carpentry

Metal Framing, Insulation, Walls & Ceilings, Drywall/Finishing, Trimwork: Jamshar Construction Consultants


Drywall: National Gypsum, Structus Building Technologies’ Levelline drywall corner tape, LaFarge Rapid Coat

Johns Manville Insulation (Formaldehyde-Free)

Trim: Trim-Tex, Masisa Architectural Trim Moulding (FSC Certified), Azek Exterior Trim

Metal Framing: Flex-Ability Concepts, Dietrich Metal Framing, MarinoWare

Windows: Andersen 200 Series


Perlite Plastering Co. Inc./Southern California Drywall Co. Inc.
Los Angeles Trade Technical College, South Campus, Los Angeles, Calif.

The new Student Services Administration Building and Technology Classroom Building at the Los Angeles Trade Technical College South Campus take materials often associated with college campuses and, through skilled craftsmanship, gives them a unique, contemporary aesthetic. The two new five-story buildings feature exterior design surfaces of substantial depth and complexity. Materials such as brick, stone, stucco and EIFS wrap the buildings in a relaxed, yet dignified way.

At the entrance court and in the upper levels of the Grand Avenue façades, architects took a simple material, smooth finish plaster, and gave it dramatic form suggestive of draped or blown fabric. Three-dimensional curves in the brick veneer façade offer a contemporary interpretation of the brick warehouse buildings, while the graceful white swoops and curves of plastered surfaces provide a distinctive skyline and striking use of the material.

Southern California Drywall Co. Inc. was involved with the construction of all parts of the exterior, and re-engineering and method designing to make the project buildable and affordable. The on-time, on-budget delivery of the project was lauded by the architect, owner and general contractor.

SOCAL brought the architects’ vision of curves to life, a testament to both the quality of the understructure and the drywall finishing work. The distinct sunlight patterns and crisp shadows that play across the building highlight the careful and skilled workmanship that went into the finishes.

The company turned to Radius Track Corp. to create a comprehensive framing scheme for each façade’s transformation condition. The geometry of the brick banding features transform along each façade, but the original steel design showed different and somewhat complicated framing methods for each condition. Radius Track developed an alternative framing scheme for each façade that was efficient, strong, easy to understand and simple to install with a minimum number of components.

The framing for the stucco, EIFS, and larger brick veneer areas were sub-divided into manageable panels, allowing the team to control the installation of each wall section separately, and keep the number of key surveying points to a minimum. Radius Track’s extreme accuracy provided ideal surfaces for finishing, which was key to the successful outcome.

New techniques were used in the construction. All exterior finishing surfaces were sheathed with Certainteed GlasRoc, then a spray-applied Perm-A-Barrier VP membrane was applied, the first and largest application of its kind. Stucco and brick surfaces received Senergy’s StuccoBase trowel-applied system over stucco mesh. The surface was then completely mesh-embedded with Alpha Dry Base Coat, which was also used as the final finish coat. Senergy’s Senerflex system was used for the EIFS areas at the very top of the structures.

The innovative framing systems allowed for fast and efficient installation. That, coupled with the high quality finish work, allowed a community college with tight budgets to achieve a stunning design, on-time and on-budget.

Project Details:

Project Completion Date: August 2009

Size in overall square footage: 122,530 square feet (total building area)/109,598 square feet (total finishing area)

Initial Project Budget: $7.5 million

Final Cost of Project: $7.5 million 

Exterior Framing Contractor, Framing Installer, Drywall Contractor: Southern California Drywall Co. Inc.

Curved CFS Framing and Design: Radius Track Corp.

Exterior Sheathing, Stucco, EIFS Subcontractor: Perlite Plastering Co., Inc.

Architect: MDA Johnson Favaro

Architect: Gruen Associates

General Contractor: Taisei Construction Corp.

LEED Consultant: Davis Langdon

Energy Consultants: Brummit Energy Associates


Drywall: CertainTeed GlasRoc, Perm-A-Barrier VP membrane

Stucco: Senergy StuccoBase trowel-applied system, mesh-embedded with Alpha Dry Base Coat

Metal Framing: Custom CFS framing system by Radius Track; Dietrich Metal Framing

EIFS: Senergy Senerflex 


Advantage Exteriors
Hegdahl Residence, Jefferson County, Colo.

Jefferson County is a place filled with magnificent wonders only nature can provide. Several years ago, Mike Hegdahl envisioned his home here perched high above a spectacular vista of forested valleys in a remote subdivision, just southwest of the Denver area. His plan was to build his 8,400-square-foot dream house on a spot close to the site’s access road. However, after initial work began on the site, influence from the neighboring area pushed the site further from the road and out to the canyon’s rocky edge which required a complete revamp of the home’s foundation. The redesign of the plan added even more difficulty to the project, requiring a construction team with extraordinary creativity, tenacity and vision.

Blasting the rock to prepare for construction was not an option because of the proximity of neighboring homes and the steep terrain that would funnel debris downhill to structures below. The granite formations on the site were extremely hard, resisting and devouring jackhammer bits by the dozen. With some areas cut way too deep, and high spots being too hard to level off, level foundations for the home using traditional forming methods were impossible. Innovation and creativity were required.

Fab-Form materials were used to customize a stepped foundation along the south foundation wall which dropped 15 feet in elevation. A pad footing was constructed within the rock outcrop using epoxy doweled rebar and fabric forming methods to create a base for a 10 foot tall column that would hold the corner of the main garage. The Quad-Lock wall materials were sculpted to the natural rock surface which tilted two different directions up to 20 inches within a 24 inch wall height change.

The complex foundation and undulating rock surface required extensive customization of the Quad-Lock panels, which included numerous changes in wall thickness and different support mechanisms for the panels on either side of the same wall. The ability to hand carve each Quad-Lock panel was crucial to the success of this project.

The multiple elevation changes and customized footings and pads created a series of challenging steel reinforcement and forming details. Drops in footing levels, as much as six feet, had created virtual “windows” in the foundation which generated another set of challenges during concrete placement.

Due to the raised floor level in the center of the building and the long narrow footprint of the building, the foundation corner points were not visible across the structure. This made dimension lines, plumb and level lines and point verification impossible. The house was constructed “blind” in three sections until all three areas were built up to a level where visual confirmation was possible. When the first floor was measured for parallel chord wood trusses and TJI’s, the contractor was able to verify, for the first time, that all the walls and dimensions matched up. Needless to say, it was a huge relief to find everything plumb, straight, square and level!

The owners wanted a distinctive finishing treatment for their dream home. Cultured light grey veneer stone, manufactured by H&M Stone was installed on the exterior of the home. The expanded wire mesh required underneath the stone was screwed into the Quad-Lock ties at twelve inch centers. The secured wire mesh allowed the light gray field stone to be securely attached to the walls up to 61 feet high.

The result after all the challenges and inventive solutions is a dramatic and enduring home that commands extraordinary views from inside and out.

Project Details:

Completion Date: July 2009

Size in overall square footage: 8,400

Initial Project Budget: $1 million

Final Cost of Project: $1.1 million 

Advantage Exteriors: Keith Bleeker, ICF Installers, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Owner/Contractor/Designer: Mike Hegdahl

Dealer: John Hatfield, Energywise Sustainable Products, Quad-Lock dealer, Montrose, Colo.


ICFs: Quad-Lock

Drywall: USG

Windows: Sierra Pacific

Exterior Stone: H&W Stone, manufactured exterior stone in 11 shades of grey 

Metal Framing

Longhorn Village, Austin, Texas

Longhorn Village is a luxurious senior living facility that was developed in association with The Ex-Students Association of The University of Texas and is located in the Steiner Ranch community. The project includes a four-story Independent Living building, as well as a two-story Assisted Living building that combined are more than 495,000 square feet of new construction. BakerTriangle was selected by general contractor Manhattan Construction to provide metal stud framing, sound and thermal batt insulation, drywall assemblies, acoustical ceilings, acoustical wall panels and architectural expansion joint covers. The project was unique in that the design team elected to use load bearing light gauge metal framing for the structure. BakerTriangle teamed with Nuconsteel from Denton, Texas, for manufacturing of load bearing metal stud wall panels, light gauge floor joist with metal decking that supports the concrete floor slabs and pre-manufactured light gauge Roof Trusses. In addition to Nuconsteel, Baker Drywall employed Greene Building Co. for installation of the load bearing metal panel system.

The load-bearing wall panels were turned out to be an incredible challenge. If the load-bearing walls have diagonal cross-bracing, this will cause major conflicts with recessed items such as wall-hung lights, light switches, fire extinguisher cabinets and dryer vent boxes.

Detailed coordination was required to ensure the necessary codes for mounting heights of these items were met while maintaining the structural integrity of the bracing. Rough openings for doors, windows and ductwork in wall panels are critical. These must be coordinated upfront with the HVAC, door frame, window and wall panel installer. Failure to coordinate these items would result in expensive and lengthy rework in the field. Rough openings for hollow metal frames must be large enough to allow for in-filled studs to be installed. Rough openings for ductwork must take the thickness of the insulation into account.

Another critical element and challenge was to review the concrete slab prior to installation of the panels; it was imperative for BakerTriangle to coordinate installation with the builder and concrete contractor. The architectural details called for radius light coves throughout the common areas and BakerTriangle met the challenge using light-gauge metal framing and drywall cut to exacting standards for the final finished look.

A great deal of coordination and pre-planning with other trades working on the project was necessary to insure that everything fit together properly. Once the building structure was in place, BakerTriangle crews moved on to constructing the high end finishes that were chosen for this upscale facility. Detailed acoustical and drywall ceiling features throughout the buildings compliment many hard wood finishes installed over our framing and drywall.

BakerTriangle provided full time onsite project management that allowed fast and accurate support to the day to day challenges that come with a project of this size. BakerTriangle was able to complete this project on time and under budget with a total final contract of $14 million.

Project Details:

Completion Date: March 2010

Size in overall square footage: 200,000

Initial Project Budget: $12.2 million

Final Cost of Project: $13.2 million

Architect: Rees Associates

Builder: Manhattan Construction

Owner: CRSA


Non-load Bearing Metal Framing: ClarkWestern

Load-bearing Wall Panels: Nuconsteel, ClarkWestern Building Systems

Metal Lath: Structalath

Stucco: ParexLaHabra

Thermal and Sound Insulation: Owens Corning

Acoustical Ceilings: Armstrong

Expansion Joint Covers: MM Systems

Soffit Board: James Hardie Building Products

Acoustical Wall Panels: Armstrong Sound Soak Panels 


The judges for this year’s Excellence AWARDS were:

Bob Drury,Executive Director, Northwest Wall and Ceiling Bureau

Mark Fowler, W&C Editorial Director and Executive Vice President, Western Wall & Ceiling Contractors Association

Michael Gardner, Executive Director, Gypsum Association

Steve Pedracine, Executive Director, Minnesota Lath & Plaster Bureau

Elizabeth Steiner, Executive Director, Insulating Concrete Forms Association

Amy Tuttle, Publisher, W&C

Tom Watts, Associate Editor, W&C

John Wyatt, Editor, W&C