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Minority architectural firm approved to complete the Whitney Young Library

The Board of Commissioners of the Public Building Commission of Chicago (PBC) appointed Johnson & Lee, Ltd, a full-service Chicago-based MBE architectural firm, to serve as the Architect of Record (AOR) for the Whitney Young Branch Library Renovation and Expansion Project in the Chatham neighborhood.

This appointment aligns with Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Public Library’s initiative to reimagine the ways library patrons access information, inspire learning and engage communities. With the Board’s action the PBC will transfer schematic designs to Johnson & Lee to successfully carry the project through the various phases of construction.

“The PBC identified the Whitney Young Branch Library Renovation and Expansion project as the prime opportunity to introduce architectural firms to a new client,” Felicia S. Davis, Executive Director, PBC said. “With the appointment of Johnson & Lee, we anticipate that we will deliver another highly successful project to the benefit of the community and further the mission of the Chicago Public Library.”

The PBC assembled an evaluation committee which included Darlene Tribue, President of Park Manor Neighbors Community Council, to assess firms with the demonstrated ability to execute AOR services for the project. The Evaluation Committee assessed firms based on their proposed project team, project approach and their demonstrated commitment to MBE/WBE participation in the execution of their services.

“Reinvesting in and revitalizing the Whitney Young Library is critical not only to each constituent in the area, but also to the region,” Darlene Tribue, President of Park Manor Neighborhood Community Council said. “This project is as an opportunity to develop a striking architectural, community specific design that will play a critical role in revitalizing the South Side.”

Located at 7901 S. King Drive, the renovation plans include a 3,000 plus square foot expansion. The facility will feature an Early Learning center for children; Youmedia digital lab for teens; additional seating; meeting and study spaces; expanded computer access and ADA accessibility throughout the building. In addition, the building will be retrofit for energy efficient mechanical systems and improved lighting.

“Historically, the Chatham and Park Manor neighborhoods has been the heart of Chicago’s African-American middle class,” Frank Christopher Lee, Principal of Johnson & Lee, said. “It is an honor to be able to design a community-oriented library in this neighborhood that will provide residents with a much needed public gathering space geared toward inclusive community activities and technology-based learning.”

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