Mid-Point Milestone: Obama Presidential Center is Rising

Construction on the new Obama Presidential Center (OPC) continues. The campus featuring a world-class museum, public library, and an outdoor plaza for community gatherings is changing the landscape of Chicago’s south side.

It’s hard to believe two years have passed. In September of 2021, Powers & Sons joined the Lakeside Alliance team, former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama, City of Chicago officials, and community and Obama Foundation leaders to break ground on the landmark project. Fast-forward to September of 2023 and the campus is rising.

This September 2023 Obama Foundation photo shows progress on the Museum Building, which is located on the southwest corner of the campus.

PROJECT UPDATE: Mid-Point Milestones

We are proud to report that Team OPC has reached the half-way point in construction. As of today, about 50% of the workforce are City of Chicago residents. Excellent progress has been and continues to be made.

  • Cornell Drive was closed this summer to make way for an eventual connection between the campus and Jackson Park lagoons. The entire east side of the campus is designed to create bird and wildlife habitats. It will feature new walking and bike paths that follow the water’s edge.
  • Rising along South Stony Island are stairwells and elevator shafts for the Museum Building standing over 100 feet tall. The building’s concrete walls and floors are following closely behind. The Museum Plaza Deck has been placed. Granite and glass that will clad part of the exterior are being readied for installation.
  • MEP systems across the campus continue to be installed.
  • Roofs have been framed for the Library Building and the Forum. Crews have begun pouring concrete. Here’s a link to a time-lapsed video of the Forum’s building concrete pour with some interesting facts and statistics about this key project milestone.
  • Work on the parking garage also continues.

COMMUNITY IMPACT: Intentional & Lasting

Engaging local residents as well as members of the construction community has been a focus since the Lakeside Alliance was formed.

This snapshot is taken from the Lakeside Alliance 2022 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Report posted online at https://www.lakesidealliance.com/2022-diversity-equity-inclusion-report.

One area in which we have had success is providing and promoting the availability of resources for subcontractors, suppliers, and others who want to help build the OPC. The Lakeside Alliance hosts virtual and in-person information sessions and workshops targeting local small business owners.

In addition, the Lakeside Alliance actively promotes area trade apprenticeship and training programs. The team also hosts free, hands-on workshops for local youth interested in construction careers.

The Lakeside Alliance is also committed to facilitating and fostering an inclusive construction environment in Chicago that is sustainable and thriving well beyond the construction period. Scheduled to open in late 2025, the Obama Presidential Center will inspire, empower, and connect people around the world.

Powers & Sons continues to learn something new from this amazing experience every day. We are honored to help bring the project to life in a way that will make a positive impact in the community for years to come!

Kangaroo Crossing: Zoo’s New Exhibit Now Open

Those visiting the Indianapolis Zoo this summer can experience the zoo’s new Kangaroo Crossing. Powers & Sons Construction delivered the design-build project, which opened on Saturday, June 18. It is the first time since 2009 the zoo has had a dedicated kangaroo exhibit.

Project Manager Jeremy Sadler (center) with Assistant Project Manager Dylan Etheridge (left) and Senior Project Manager Randy Swinford were on hand for the exhibit’s opening day.

The new habitat for the red kangaroos provides visitors with an interactive experience with free-roaming kangaroos and other unique Australian species. There is no fencing or barriers between the seven female and six male kangaroos and visitors. The exhibit includes an aviary with cockatoos that fly overhead.

Visitors follow a paved walking path through the exhibit. Some may be able to gently pet the ‘roos on the back (never near their face or ears). Guests can snap a selfie or two just feet away from the animals while learning about the threats they face in the wild.

According to Project Manager Jeremy Sadler, the kangaroo’s home is waterproof inside so zookeepers can easily spray it down and keep it clean. The 3,000 SF concrete-block structure features a water retardant in the mortar and a water sealant on the block with very little regular drywall anywhere in the holding area.

The caging system is unique with sliding doors that open and close via a pulley system rather than door handles, which could be opened by the animals. Metal columns support stainless steel welded-wire mesh netting that forms a canopy over the aviary, which is attached to the building on two sides. Net sidewalls come down to the fence to keep the birds enclosed.

Learn more about the exhibit on the zoo’s website at indianapoliszoo.com/meet-our-mob.

Kelly Powers Baria

Building the Obama Presidential Center

Building the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) is about local, sustainable change and partnership.

CEO & Chair of the Board Mamon Powers, Jr. and Vice President Kelly Powers Baria are featured in a new video released by the Obama Foundation about the Lakeside Alliance initiative.

Lakeside Alliance is a joint venture between Powers & Sons Construction Company, UJAMAA Construction, Inc., Brown & Momen, Inc., Safeway Construction Company, and Turner Construction Company. “Our primary mission is to be transformative,” says Kelly. “We want to leave the construction landscape different than when when we first began.”

The five firms form an innovative team of experienced construction management specialists. Together, the alliance will execute a new paradigm in the industry where community and capability merge. At least 50 percent of the workforce hired for this historic project will live in the area surrounding Chicago’s Jackson Park.

The multi-year OPC project will be a catalyst for substantial investment in the area. Located on the south side of the city near the University of Chicago, the OPC will feature a presidential library, a museum, a forum (event) building, an athletic center, and a spacious plaza with green space. The majority of these facilities will be free and open to the public.

Kelly, Mamon, and partners discuss the vision for honoring our nation’s first Black president in the video at https://lnkd.in/eZmPfFk.

New Reality Accelerates Need for Strength and Innovation

Mamon Powers, III, an eight-year member of the United Way of Central Indiana (UWCI) board and president of the Indianapolis Office, is featured in the first article in a new blog series launched by UWCI last week.

Titled “A Board United: Meet Mamon Powers,” Mamon shares his thoughts on how a strong, inclusive company culture has helped Powers & Sons Construction stand the test of time. It also enabled us to pivot and be flexible in adjusting to the nation’s new reality when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

Mamon discusses how business leaders had to act quickly to realign company resources, achieve its project goals, and guide their teams through uncertainty. He shares some of his key lessons learned about adapting to changing conditions in the construction industry.

Read the entire article.