Talented Team of Minority- and Women-Owned Firms Selected to Design and Build UCAN’s CITY Campus in North Lawndale

March 21, 2013
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Experienced Firms to Manage $32.9 Million Project That Features
New Therapeutic Youth Home and Program Center/Headquarters Building
Consistent with its history of serving a predominately minority youth clientele and employing a diverse workforce, the social service organization UCAN has selected a talented team of minority- and women-owned businesses to design and build the agency’s planned $32.9 million campus in the North Lawndale community. The campus will include a new Therapeutic Youth Home as well as a Program Center/Headquarters building.After a rigorous and transparent bidding process, UCAN’s Board of Directors selected the team of Ujamaa Construction Inc. and Gilbane Building Company (a majority firm) as general contractors.
Leading the team to design the new CITY campus is Johnson & Lee Ltd., a nationally renowned African American-owned architect/planning firm, that is joined by Columbus, Ohio-based Moody Nolan, the nation’s largest African American-owned and operated architecture firm. The team also includes Searl Lamaster Howe Architects, a woman-owned business enterprise in Chicago that will provide interior design expertise.

UCAN’s new campus, planned for Fillmore Street and Independence Boulevard, is slated to become home to the agency’s new Chicagoland Institute for Transforming Youth (CITY) initiative, which is UCAN’s bold new solution to the violence crisis plaguing Chicago’s communities. CITY seeks to address this crisis through a unique approach that coordinates programs and services across providers, utilizing data integration and common evaluation methodology. The campus is designed to advance the healing of youth who have suffered trauma, violence and loss.


The project comprises a 54,500 square-foot Therapeutic Youth Home and 31,200 square-foot Program Center/Headquarters Building on a seven-acre site along South Fillmore Street between West Central Park Avenue and West Independence Boulevard. The Program Services/ Headquarters Building will include administrative, program and training space in a two-story structure. The Therapeutic Youth Home will include 70 bedrooms for residents ages 6-18, and will also include a gymnasium, institutional kitchen, administrative and support spaces. The site work will include parking, a maintenance garage, playing fields and landscaping.

UCAN Board Chair Judith C. Rice said, “Our proposal to build the CITY campus in North Lawndale at the long-vacant site of the former Sears Roebuck headquarters gives us an opportunity to employ a talented team of minority and women-owned businesses. Our agency-wide commitment to diversity and inclusion extends to the CITY campus project. From the beginning, we were committed to maximizing minority- and women business enterprise participation for construction, throughout the pre-development phase and continuing through the closeout of the project.”

“We are excited and have high hopes for this ambitious public-private project and the professional expertise that this team of minority- and women-owned businesses will bring to the table,” said UCAN CEO Tom Vanden Berk. “A project of this magnitude requires the input, support and active participation of a number of committed people, organizations, donors and government agencies, including the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois. Among many supporters who continue to assist us, we’re grateful for the expertise, endorsement and much-needed resources we’ve received from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on behalf of the city, as well as the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.”

Vanden Berk said a project of such size, which is expected to break ground this spring and last an estimated 18 months with projected completion in October 2014, could be influenced by such factors as weather, license requirements, government regulations, financing and funders’ prerequisites.

Both the CITY campus and its approach to help address the youth violence crisis in Chicago have received the support and endorsement of a wide range of local elected officials, community organizations, religious leaders, non-profit partners and residents of the North Lawndale community, including Alderman Michael Chandler (24th);  Alderman Jason Irvin (28th); U.S. Congressman Danny Davis (7th); Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele; Ill. Representative Arthur Turner Jr.; Academy of Urban School Leadership; Better Boys Foundation; Homan Square Foundation; and the West Side Ministers Coalition, among many others.

Frank M. Clark, chair of the CITY Campaign Cabinet, added: “Our campaign has been committed to securing funds for this ambitious and achievable project. We have been encouraged by the diversity of individuals, businesses, elected officials, non-profits and others who have joined us in our mission to develop systematic programs and services that support the community. We still are in need of more supporters and are committed to building relationships.”


Gilbane Building Company’s Chicago office has been providing building construction management, program management, design-build and general contracting services since 1978. Clients include private and public entities in healthcare, higher education, corporate, life sciences, and federal, state and municipal sectors.

Founded in 2002, Ujamaa Construction Inc. delivers high quality, fast-track general contracting and construction management services for commercial, retail, higher education, multi-family housing and medical facilities. Clients have included Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Illinois Institute of Technology, Walmart, Walgreens, Bank of America, Chicago Children’s Museum, among many others.

Jones Lang LaSalle is the development manager for the project.

John D. Nichols, chair of the Foundation for Homan Square, said: “As a supporter of UCAN, we look forward to the CITY project and what we expect to be its positive impact on the North Lawndale community in terms of introducing new opportunities for residents.”

“UCAN is committed to the noble and needed practices of diversity and inclusion, and we firmly believe that our diversity efforts make us a strong, more vibrant and highly effective organization,” explained Claude A. Robinson Jr., executive vice president of External Affairs & Diversity. “Our goal is for our actions to match our words, and that will be the case with CITY.”

UCAN is a well-respected 143 year-old social service organization that offers a full continuum of services to more than 13,500 children, youth and families each year, including a therapeutic youth home, therapeutic day school, counseling services, transitional living programs, support for pregnant or parenting teens, foster care placement, workforce development, youth leadership development and violence prevention programming. To learn more, visit

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