Choosing the best of anything is a challenge. First one must decide, at least in their own mind, what qualifies as “best”? Just what pushes a project into the best category in the evolving decorative concrete industry? Is it the creativity? The choice of materials or how the materials are used that makes a project successful? What weight does design carry? Were different methods used or too many methods? Defining “best” could make for many hours of debate, especially when there are many good projects to choose from.

Nonetheless, we did have to choose, and the selections here demonstrate how decorative concrete in public spaces and the commercial sector continues to grow and mature. Whether in schools, churches, retail spaces, theaters, grocery stores, and corporate headquarters or along beachfronts, the following projects demonstrate decorative concrete found throughout the country and beyond—Florida, California, Ohio, Texas, Colorado, and Lebanon.

Decorative concrete inspires creativity among its practitioners, who use concrete as if it were a malleable material—finishing, revealing, carving, casting, and polishing. They explore color and create grand themes for their projects. Ralph Gasser uses automotive finishes to get a patina; Carolyn Braaksma designs objects to embed and polish. New systems evolve, such as Lithocrete's exposed tiny glass aggregate or ArcusStone's limestone plaster.

The seven projects reviewed here—along with our Project of the Year—cover a wide range of commercial work. Additionally, because there were so many great projects submitted, we added coverage of honorable mentions.

Biotechnology, Sciences, and Engineering Building, University of Texas, San Antonio, Braaksma Design, Denver, Colo.

Mariner's Church Plaza, Irvine, Calif., Trademark Concrete Systems, Ventura, Calif.

Discovery Canyon Middle School, Academy School District 20, Colorado Springs, Colo., Colorado Hardscapes, Denver

Cinema 11 Theaters, Anderson Calif., Concrete by Gasser, Redding, Calif.

7 for all mankind, Vernon, Calif., Demmert and Associates, Glendale, Calif.

The European Village Resort, Palm Coast, Fla., ArcusStone Distributors, Florida/Caribbean

Towers of Kenwood, Cincinnati, Ohio, Architectural Concrete Systems, Lockbourne, Ohio

Honorable Mention Projects