Obama Foundation selects Lakeside Alliance as CM for new Obama Presidential Center

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lakeside alliance
Members of the Lakeside Alliance — a collective of five construction firms selected to manage the construction of the Obama Presidential Center. (image from the Obama Foundation.)

The Obama Foundation says it has selected Lakeside Alliance to serve as the construction manager for the new Obama Presidential Center.

Lakeside Alliance is a newly created joint venture consisting of Turner Construction Company, and the Presidential Partners consortium of Powers & Sons Construction, UJAMAA Construction, Brown & Momen, and Safeway Construction.

Powers & Sons, UJAMAA, Brown & Momen and Safeway represent some of the most established and well-respected African-American owned construction firms in Chicago, the foundation said in a statement.

“The creation of the joint venture will ensure that minority firms from the South Side will be in significant leadership positions in the construction of the Obama Presidential Center,” the statement said. “The Presidential Partners will have a major stake in the financial risk and reward, day-to-day decision making and strategy-setting for the project, and people of color and women will be performing meaningful roles on the CM team.”

Smaller firms are often precluded from winning large-scale construction projects because they lack the necessary resources or experience with similarly sized projects; the joint venture structure is designed to solve for that problem by creating a consortium that includes minority firms working in partnership with a national firm.

The foundation says this structure goes beyond a typical arrangement where a national firm receives the majority of a contract and an MBE/WBE receives a smaller share. “The Obama Foundation anticipates that participation by the minority firms will provide the experience they need to grow and compete for other significant projects in the future,” the statement said.

“The Obama Foundation believes in creating opportunities for diverse and local businesses and building pathways to meaningful jobs for minorities and other underrepresented populations,” said Obama Foundation CEO David Simas. “The development of the Obama Presidential Center gives us an opportunity to make a major, unprecedented impact on the South Side in terms of hiring talented, local businesses and individuals. We look forward to working with Lakeside Alliance to achieve our goals, set new benchmarks and make the Obama Presidential Center a landmark that our neighbors can be proud of.”

Some of the major projects that members of Lakeside Alliance have completed include the Modern Wing and Nichols Bridgeway at the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Chicago Reva & David Logan Center for the Arts, and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business Charles M. Harper Center. Members of Lakeside Alliance have also completed multiple other projects at the University of Chicago and with such institutions as the University of Illinois at Chicago, City Colleges of Chicago, the Illinois Institute of Technology and Purdue University.

The foundation says the members of Lakeside Alliance “have demonstrated a deep, longstanding commitment to increasing diversity and inclusion in the Chicago construction industry.”

“For the Obama Presidential Center, they are committed to exceeding industry standards and surpassing their own milestones by awarding as much as half of the expected $300 million plus of subcontracts on the project to diverse suppliers, and to ensuring that a significant percentage of the total project work hours are performed by minorities and residents from the project’s neighboring communities. The contract Lakeside Alliance signed with the Obama Foundation includes financial incentives for exceeding these ambitious goals and penalties for falling short of the goals set.”

“We received compelling proposals from incredibly talented teams, and we deeply appreciate the efforts of everyone who participated in this process,” said Roark Frankel, director of planning and construction for the Obama Foundation.

“Lakeside Alliance stood out, first, because they’re excellent builders. But what impressed us most was their passionate and thoughtful commitment to infuse diversity and inclusion into every aspect of this project, at levels far beyond what has been done in Chicago for projects of this size and complexity. These values are at the heart of what the Obama Foundation wants to accomplish in all its work and initiatives, including constructing the Obama Presidential Center. One of the reasons we made this decision almost a year before we hope to begin construction is that we are eager to begin partnering with Lakeside Alliance to start the hard work of making sure that the local community and businesses are very much a part of this project and process.”

“We are honored to help construct the Obama Presidential Center, which promises to be an iconic institution that will attract visitors from the South Side and around the world,” said Mamon Powers of Lakeside Alliance. “If it weren’t for the Obama Foundation embracing this unique joint venture and making local hiring a priority, diverse South Side firms like ours would not get the chance to have a seat at the table and play a meaningful role in the process. We applaud the Obama Foundation for their vision and look forward to working with them to increase diverse participation in the construction industry.”