Building the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago Requires a Collaborative Effort


CHICAGO (CBS) — Drive by the Obama Presidential Center site and it’s fair to say it doesn’t really look presidential right now.

The teams are almost a year old in construction, but not much can be seen from the street.

This is because a lot of concrete work is done underground first.

Morning Insider Lauren Victory takes us behind the gates of construction for a unique story of teamwork.

“It really is an amazing job,” said Stephanie Hickman, walking with CBS 2 along the perimeter of what will become the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park.

Hickman, CEO of Trice Construction, never imagined his concrete business would leave its mark here.

“There was a moment when I said, ‘Boy, if we could just get a square of sidewalk on this project, I could say we were there,'” she said. His “wildest dream” came true with the opportunity to supply structural concrete on the building.

By the time the parking lot, museum, forum and library are completed, approximately 5,250 cement trucks will have been sunk.

“We knew it wasn’t something we could do alone,” said Hickman, who teamed up with II in One Contractors’ Bob McGee. They are usually competitors as two black business owners in the concrete industry. Often, large corporations hire their teams as contractors to fulfill a minority-owned business requirement.

“Just deep in our minds, we believe that God made this for us to be part of,” said McGee, who explained that the project was heaven-sent because, even together, II in One and Trice n wouldn’t have had a crack in that concrete. work. They had to find a way to get enough capital, equipment and resources.

“We had the skills to participate, but we weren’t bringing the whole package. Not in terms of the number of people in our organization and the comprehensive expertise to execute this at the level of quality required by this project,” explained McGee.

The addition of a third larger company, WE O’Neil, helped seal the deal. Their varied and unusual trifecta is called Concrete Collective.

“I think each of the companies brings their own value to the equation and we’re able to look at things from multiple angles,” said John Russell, president of the Chicago office for WE O’Neil Construction.

Trice and II in One may be smaller players, but they’re not in the backseat as contractors this time around. Everyone is a decision maker at Concrete Collective.

“They’re also involved in P&L and overall project management,” said Junisa Brima, construction manager for Lakeside Alliance, builder of the Obama Presidential Center. Lakeside Alliance is another example of a joint venture on the project (between Brown & Momen, Powers & Sons Construction, Safeway Construction and UJAMAA Construction). All four are black-owned construction companies.

“She really is a role model whose time has come,” said Hickman who is also proud of her impact as a female leader in the construction world. With concrete works expected to last through 2024, Hickman says Trice will be looking for help and she hopes to bring more and more women on board as partners.

So what else is going on with construction? Excavations completed in May. Walls are starting to form, and when CBS 2 visited, elevator cores were poured.

We’re told you can expect to see some buildings in the Obama Center peek above ground before the end of the year. You can follow construction updates here: obama.org/the-center/construction/.


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