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Some of the most important parts of cities and states are the gathering places where everyone in the community is welcome. These centers might be secular or religious in nature, privately or publically funded, but many recreational and cultural centers have architecturally driven facades that have caught the attention of building organizations and architecture lovers alike.
Constructing community centers is not an easy feat because of the large project sizes and the wide variety of facilities that are often included. Commercial contractors that undertake these projects are usually large-scale firms who are experienced when it comes to dealing with complex construction.
Although commercial contractors do not specialize in community centers, many of them have portfolios with a significant portion dedicated to projects commissioned by public and private organizations. Many national and international commercial contractors have constructed upscale community centers all over the country. We went looking for the builders that have extensive experience in this sector and came up with this list of the best 24. We considered awards, experience, and the strength of the overall portfolio.
If you are thinking about building a community center, we recommend checking each contractor’s license with the local licensing board, speaking to past clients, and using our bidding system to get competitive quotes from at least 3 contractors. Getting multiple bids is the best way to ensure you get a fair price and that bids include the complete scope of work.
24) CDI Contractors
3000 Cantrell Rd., Little Rock, AR 72202
Arizona-based firm CDI Contractors is a growing commercial contractor that offers its services to 29 states. The firm has a diverse range of expertise that is sought by a variety of clients from the government, education, cultural, and entertainment sectors. Its upscale commercial projects have been recognized by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) with Excellence in Construction Awards in 2012 and 2013.
CDI Contractors’ modern approach to construction and remodeling gives it an edge in the Arizona commercial building scene. The Walton Arts Center is a great example of how the firm turned a bland infrastructure into a contemporary cultural center. The firm gave it a more open entry, exposing the stunning geometric ceiling complemented by angular hanging lights.
23) Donohoe Construction
7101 Wisconsin Ave. Suite #700, Bethesda, MD 20814
The Donohoe Real Estate empire has been in business since 1884 but it only opened Donohoe Construction in 1955. Since then, Donohoe Construction has been one of Washington’s leading general contractors that offer multi-family, office, hospitality, education projects, and many more. Its current President and CEO, Christopher Bruch, has been working for the company for 30 years and was also instrumental in launching Donohoe Hospitality Services. Bruch’s transition is significant because he’s only the second CEO who is not from the Donohoe family. Under his leadership, the firm has received a 2018 National Association of Industrial Parks (NAIOP) Award of Excellence, a 2017 US Green Building Council (USGBC) Wintergreen Award, and a 2016 STEP Platinum award from ABC.
A lot of communities have benefitted from the firm’s creations, including the residents of Mclean, Virginia. The Rotonda Community Center is a two-story renovation that includes a fitness center, a game room, a library, and a sauna. The multi-million upgrade involved two phases which reconstructed the recreational facilities and administrative offices.
22) Reynold Solutions
3300 N Third St., Harrisburg, PA 17110
Reynold Solutions is one of the leading providers of commercial construction management services with more than 200 projects in its portfolio. In 1997, the firm started offering general construction services with Central Pennsylvania as its primary client base. The majority of Pennsylvania’s public infrastructure was constructed by the firm, and several projects have garnered numerous awards, including a Mid-Atlantic Golden Trowel Best in Category Award for the expansion of Milton Hershey School’s Memorial Hall.
The Tom Ridge Environmental Center is one of the firm’s highly recognized LEED Silver certified projects. The complex project was a $35-million expansion in which the firm added more facilities to the center. This included a research and education facility and a children’s discovery center.
21) Scheibel Construction
115 Prospect Dr., Huntingtown, MD 20639
For four generations, family-owned Scheibel Construction has served Maryland, Virginia, Washington, and Delaware. Its current president, John R. Bailey, worked in the company for 34 years. This made him the perfect candidate to oversee day-to-day operations and maintain client relations. Scheibel’s family brand allowed them to maintain a steady stream of clients in the commercial industry.
One of the firm’s wide-scale projects is the 72,000-square-foot Annapolis Recreation Center. The LEED Certified center has a lot of sustainable features such as a tank that harvests rainwater for irrigation. The firm also installed active recreational facilities, like an indoor rock climbing wall.
20) KBE Building Corporation
76 Batterson Park Rd., Farmington, CT 06034
Since 1959, KBE Building Corporation has been a single source of outstanding construction solutions for Eastern and Mid-Atlantic US. Throughout the years, clients from various commercial sectors have employed the services of KBE. Doing so earned the firm more than $2.5 billion in construction volume for the last decade. It has also consistently placed them among Engineering News-Record’s (ENR) Top 400 Construction Companies.
The firm has a very technical construction method, and the results are beautiful: its exteriors are innovative and creative. Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp is the perfect example of how the firm explores its creative freedom. The firm built housing for campers, pool houses, and a performing arts center. The performing arts center is a rustic theater with a log exterior and a green canopy entrance.
19) C.W. Driver
468 North Rosemead Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91107
It’s been a hundred years since C.W. Driver opened its doors and it’s become a multi-faceted builder that offers a variety of general construction services. Many clients from the commercial sector employ C.W. Driver for its simple modern style. The firm’s stunning commercial projects have received many awards, including a 2016 Los Angeles Architectural Award, a 2015 American Institute of Architects Merit Award, and a 2017 ENR National’s Best of the Best award.
The Valley Performing Arts Center is one of the firm’s notable award-winning projects. The five-story building is a LEED Gold certified establishment that houses a 180-seat experimental theater, a 230-seat recital room, and a 1,700-seat acoustic performance hall. The $125-million project has garnered the attention of many trade publications, like ENR and Architect magazine.
199 S Los Robles Ave. Suite #300, Pasadena, CA 91101
Established in 1963, Pankow has been bringing innovation to the commercial construction scene by integrating new tech like Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), Virtual Design and Construction, and Alternative Energy Solutions. The firm is a pioneer of Lean Construction, a strategic method that minimizes waste and construction time. A lot of clients from the education, government, and hospital sectors employ the firm because of its practical methods. The firm also consistently receives awards from the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), including the Project of the Year and Design Excellence distinctions.
One of its recent projects, The North Hills Wellness Center, is a certified LEED Silver establishment located in San Fernando Valley. Pankow constructed a 13,500-square-foot institution that has 14 medical rooms and various offices. The exterior has a rustic beige exterior that’s a familiar sight in California’s warm desert landscape.
17) Okland Construction
1700 N McClintock Dr., Tempe, AZ 85281
Built on founder John Okland’s knowledge in carpentry and shipbuilding, Okland Construction is one of the oldest firms on this list. Known for its quality craftsmanship, the family-owned business has been in operation since 1918, and its specialization has always been wide-scale commercial projects. The firm’s complex commercial projects are regularly recognized by building publications and organizations such as ENR and Associated General Contractors (AGC).
One of the firm’s award-winning projects is the Kearns Olympics Athlete Training Center. The 2019 AGC Sports Recreation award-winner houses the U.S. Speed Skating Team and Hall of Fame. Its exterior features a sophisticated overlooking window that showcases the Olympic oval, a fitness center, and meeting spaces for the community council.
16) PCL Construction
2000 S Colorado Blvd., Tower Two Suite #2-500, Denver, CO 80222
Started as a humble family-business in 1906, PCL Construction is one of the most acclaimed commercial contractors in the country. The firm is capable of working on simple and complex projects, with values ranging from $20k to $1 billion. In addition, PCL ranked seventh in ENR’s 2018 Top 400 Contractors in the U.S.
One of the firm’s most significant projects is the Hawaii Convention Center. The firm took on the project in 1997, which was its first construction in Hawaii. The Hawaii Convention Center is 1.1 million square feet and costs over $200 million to build. This very significant project is a complicated blueprint, but PCL finished the project a month ahead of schedule.
15) Gilbane Building Company
7 Jackson Wkwy., Providence, RI 02903
Globally integrated construction firm Gilbane Building Company provides general construction and construction management services to 21 states. The firm is one of the country’s oldest construction companies. Its roots can be traced to 1873 when it was a family-owned carpentry shop. The firm’s longevity can be credited to its 75% repeat client rate, and the fact that 95% of its projects had zero lost time injuries.
The Baltimore Convention Center renovation is a wide-scale project that involved over one million square feet of renovation. The convention center was located on a tight urban site, so Gilbane had two phases of utility relocation that involved 16,000 tons of steel. What resulted was a modern institution complemented with geometric bars found in the interior and exterior.
700 N Meadow Ln., Minneapolis, MN 55422
Energy and engineering developer Mortenson has been providing integrated innovative services to the country since 1954. The firm has now expanded to eleven states and continues to receive numerous accolades annually. Some of its more notable wins include a 2015 DBIA award for the Radisson Blu Mall of America, a 2016 NAIOP Award of Excellence, and a 2018 Builder of the Year distinction from The Daily Reporter.
Throughout its years of service, Mortenson continues to uphold the value of community involvement. The firm supports more than 20 charitable organizations because Chairman Mort Mortenson believes that generosity is the greatest gift he can give. The firm’s skills truly shine with community projects, including the West River Community Center. The 138,000-square-foot expansion included four new indoor basketball courts, an outdoor pool and waterpark, and an NHL-sized ice arena.
13) DeAngelis Diamond
6635 Willow Park Dr., Naples, FL 34109
In its 22 years of service, DeAngelis Diamond continues to grow as one of the country’s most innovative construction management firms. Founders John DeAngelis and David Diamond opened the firm in Florida, which has now expanded to 45 states, including an international branch in the Caribbean Islands. The firm is also consistently included in many top builder lists, including Business Observer’s Top 50 Contractors list and ENR’s Top 400 Contractor List.
DeAngelis Diamond constructed the Brighton Clubhouse and Community Center in 2012. It became a valuable project for the Florida community because the 15,000-square-foot center serves as the headquarters of the Seminole Tribe’s Department of Elders. It’s also a sustainable establishment that’s earned a LEED Gold certification. One of its sustainable features is a systematic water system that collects rainwater and uses it for plumbing and toilet fixtures.
12) Layton Construction
9090 S Sandy Pkwy., Sandy, UT 84070
After his service in World War II, Alan Layton knew that he had to provide for his family while recovering from his injuries. With his knowledge of engineering and his knack for construction, Layton established Layton Construction in 1953. The firm is still family-owned and it’s currently led by David Layton. David has diversified the firm’s clientele and it’s now known as one of the leading hospitality builders in the nation.
The firm’s hospitality projects have garnered many awards, including a 2017 Building Design and Construction Silver Award for the Faena Art Center and a 2018 Utah Construction & Design Outstanding Projects Award for the Hale Centre Theatre. Another stunning project is the Mesa Art Center, a 210,000-square-foot cultural center that houses a 1,600-seat lyric theater, a 550-seat repertory theater, a 200-seat playhouse theater, and a 99-seat signature theater.
11) Gough Construction
2737 N Fairview Ave., St. Paul, MN 55113
McGough Construction made its name by becoming Minneapolis’s leading commercial architecture and construction service provider. Now, the firm extends its services to North Dakota, Texas, and Iowa. President and CEO Tom McGough continues to uphold the firm’s eight centers of excellence, which include sustainability, MEP systems, and virtual design and construction. The firm has earned an AIA Minneapolis Merit Award and it was named by The Star Tribune and St. Paul Business Journal as the 2017 Top Workplace and Best Place to Work.
One of the firm’s noteworthy projects in Minneapolis is the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. The 306-seat theater is a state-of-the-art cultural hub made in partnership with Benjamin Thompson and Associates. The theater has a simple brick exterior, but it houses an elegant stage with the kind of acoustics that can support a world-class orchestra.
10) Nabholz Corporation
612 Garland St., Conway, AR 72032
When R.D. “Bob” Nabholz built a house for his fiancée, he did not expect an unsolicited sales offer for his work. That event inspired him to establish Nabholz Corporation in 1949. Now, the firm is known in Arkansas for having a longstanding reputation with a number of commercial clients and a wide range of construction services. The national multi-service contractor has grown to a team of more than a thousand industry professionals and, as a result, Arkansas Business Journal has named it the largest company in the state.
The firm has a number of projects in different states, but its projects in Arkansas have been especially beneficial to the community. One of these is the Saint Mark Youth Building, a safe haven for at-risk youth. The three-story building was built in collaboration with Lewis Architects and Engineering and it features a number of classrooms and recreational centers for children from different backgrounds.
9) Clark Construction
7500 Old Georgetown Rd., Bethesda, MD 20814
Clark Construction started as a humble local excavator in 1906. It grew to become one of the nation’s leading commercial civil operators and general contractors. The firm has branches in the north, south, west, and mid-Atlantic states of the nation. Its strategic locations gave the firm more exposure among big-name clients in the hospital, education, and government sectors. Clark Construction also placed eleventh in ENR’s 2018 Top 400 Contractors.
In addition to its intricate services, Clark Construction has several LEED-certified projects in its portfolio. The Nashville Music City Center is perhaps its most ambitious project to date. The LEED Gold certified establishment is 2.1 million square feet and is the largest municipal project in Nashville. Besides its enormous size, the Music City Center also has striking architecture, featuring a curved ceiling complemented by a stunning bronze exterior.
8) Bancroft Construction Company
1300 N Grant Ave. Suite #101, Wilmington, DE 19806
Serving mainly the Mid-Atlantic region, Bancroft Construction Company is known for catering to every aspect of the commercial sector. The firm is experienced in handling multi-million dollar projects because it specializes in new construction or renovation of recreational, sports, educational, health, and religious buildings. Given its impressive skill and clientele, the firm has received many awards that include a 2019 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Award and a 2018 DBIA National Award of Merit, and it was part of the 2018 AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten.
A lot of community centers and recreational centers are found in Bancroft’s portfolio, but the project that truly stands out is the East Conservatory Plaza. Located in Longwood Garden, the East Conservatory Plaza is a gathering space for guests who want to admire the largest living green wall in the country. The green wall consists of 47,000 plants and it’s complemented by a clear ceiling that provides ample natural lighting.
7) Turner Construction
375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014
Turner Construction is one of the nation’s largest and oldest construction companies. The company has been around for a hundred years and not only has it expanded to every state but across international borders as well. Annually, the firm builds about 1,500 projects worth $12 billion. Turner ranks third in ENR’s 2018 Top 400 Contractors and it takes the top spot in ENR’s 2018 Top 100 Green Building Contractors.
The Potter’s House, Youth and Community Center in Dallas is a multi-functional facility that also serves as a nondenominational church. The modern institution has a very colorful interior that generates a welcoming atmosphere for children of all ages. Besides the recreational rooms, there are also upscale event venues and lecture halls for miscellaneous activities.
6) The Weitz Company
420 Watson Powell Jr. Way Suite #100, Des Moines, IA 50309
In operation since 1855, The Weitz Company is the sixth oldest architecture, engineering, and construction firm in the country. Its three areas of specialty are commercial, industrial, and heavy industrial. The firm has constructed projects in all 50 states and it has caught the attention of many award-giving bodies. Its most recent accolades include a 2019 Eagle Award, a 2019 MBI Build Iowa award, and a 2018 ABC National Excellence in Construction award.
The Kravis Center is a recent expansion project that cost over $50 million. The project aims to enhance the performing arts scene of Palm Beach County by increasing the lobby size and creating pedestrian-friendly paths. Its architecture is similar to an arena with curved windows and a dome ceiling.
5) Balfour Beatty
3100 McKinnon St., Dallas, TX 75201
Balfour Beatty is a leading provider of general construction and at-risk construction management for clients in the public and private sector. When Brian Cahill became the firm’s president in 2015, he innovated its process by cultivating a Zero Harm safety culture. The Zero Harm safety culture promotes principles of construction that go beyond the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. Cahill’s efforts were recognized by the San Diego Daily Transcript. He was also named as a “Top Influential” contractor by the magazine.
One of the firm’s most famous projects is the Turkish American Community Center. The center, which was constructed in 2015, amassed over $100 million in construction costs. Its circular facade and pointed arches are a nod to Ottoman architecture. The 142-foot minaret is the focal point of the structure, serving as a call to prayer for Muslims.
4) Shawmut Design and Construction
560 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA 02118
New York-based firm Shawmut Design and Construction is best known for specializing in restaurant and hospitality projects. It’s also one of the few wide-scale companies that remain employee-owned to this day. The company culture also promotes making charitable contributions, and it currently supports 21 organizations. This dedication is the reason the firm is consistently included in Fortune magazine’s Best Place to Work lists.
In addition to its robust company culture, the firm’s portfolio features contemporary projects that are functional and architecturally-driven. The Woodman Family Community and Performance Center is a good example of a modern functional space. Its architecture is reminiscent of a glass box and perfectly showcases the innovative gathering space.
77 Westport Plz. Suite #250, St. Louis, MO 63146
PARIC has been the largest contractor in the Midwest for 40 years. It is one of the most decorated construction firms in the region. The firm annually receives a number of awards for its hospitality, hotel, multi-family, and community projects. These accolades include being part of Building Design and Construction’s Top 80 Hotel Construction Firms, a McReynolds Award for the restoration of the St. Louis Union Station, and an AIA St. Louis Design Award for the Arcade Building.
The firm is a household name in Missouri and Ohio because it has built many community establishments in the area. One of them is the City of Ferguson Community Center. The 27,000-square-foot establishment houses a fitness center, a basketball and volleyball court, a game room, and an internet cafe.
2) Wohlsen Construction
200 N Third St. Suite #5B, Harrisburg, PA 17101
Growing from humble roots, Wohlsen Construction was founded by a German immigrant in 1890. Now, it’s a well-respected firm in the Mid-Atlantic region with seven branches in five states. The firm has a reputation for offering wide-scale services to clients in the cultural, federal, commercial, industrial, and religious sectors. Throughout its tenure, the firm has won 260 awards from national and regional award-giving bodies.
The firm has a wide portfolio that features sustainable and diverse projects that have greatly contributed to their respective communities. One of them is the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. The performing arts and science center features two theaters that have a seating capacity of 200 and 664. The stunning cultural center has won two Awards of Excellence from the National Associated Builders and Contractors and Keystone Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors.
1999 Avenue of the Stars Suite #2600, Los Angeles, CA 90067
Internationally renowned Aecom has been leading the construction and architecture industry since 1990. The firm aims to bring together industry professionals from all over the globe to deliver iconic establishments with sustainable building. The firm is known for creating wide-scale commercial projects. It was hailed by ENR as number one in the transportation and general building category in its 2018 Top 500 Design Firms list. Perhaps its most impressive accolade is being part of Forbes World’s Most Admired Companies list for the fifth consecutive year.
The Lincoln Center is the firm’s most iconic project to date. Aecom was involved with the $1.2-billion redevelopment project, which aimed to modernize the center to complement the surrounding cultural hub. The goal was to construct a “Street of the Arts” that will join Lincoln Center to the urban landscape and catch the attention of artists and students.
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