The Public Building Commission (PBC) and Chicago Public Library (CPL) announced two Architect of Record (AOR) appointments of emerging minority architectural firms to provide design services for the Early Learning Educational Investment project. Chicago-based Onyx Architects and Studio ARQ will each serve as AOR for branch libraries throughout the City as part of the investment effort.
The scope of the project will include interior renovations within the children’s library of up to 17 regional and branch libraries that incorporates science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) with the five practices of early learning — Talk, Sing, Read, Write and Play. The renovations are made possible because of a $2.5 million investment from Exelon Corporation, through the Chicago Public Library Foundation: the largest single gift ever made to the early learning initiatives at CPL. The expansion supports joint goals of the Library, the City of Chicago, and Mayor Emanuel to provide access to quality early educational programming year round.
“This opportunity allows us to embed STEM design directly into our library spaces while using community-based architects with a diverse and impressive portfolio of experience,” said CPL Commissioner Brian Bannon.
One of the PBC’s 2016 Initiatives is to directly affect capacity building within professional services. To that end, the PBC and CPL identified this Early Learning Expansion project as the prime opportunity to introduce small architectural firms to a new client and market sector – the Chicago Public Library.
“For Onyx, this opportunity represents the chance to establish a relationship with the Public Building Commission as a prime consultant after several successful efforts as a sub-consultant” said Victor Simpkins, Principal of Onyx Architects. Simpkins continued, “This project allows our firm to directly impact the early learning environment of our city’s children. We look forward to executing exceptional design concepts for the PBC and CPL.”
“The PBC is committed to increasing contracting opportunities for small, Minority and Women Business Enterprises” said Felicia S. Davis, Executive Director of the PBC. “These AOR appointments will allow emerging design leaders to showcase their ability to proficiently design a project while exposing firms to a new market sector – libraries. This sort of direct capacity-building reaffirms the PBC’s commitment to economic diversity and sustainability in the delivery of its projects.”
Cesar Santoy, Principal of Studio ARQ, recognizes this opportunity as “a significant milestone for our evolving firm that will help build our professional capacity and expand our library practice expertise. As advocates of diversity and inclusion, we applaud the PBC’s Executive Director, Felicia Davis, for leading the charge of identifying meaningful and impactful design opportunities for small, minority-owned architectural firms.”
The firms are scheduled to begin designing the early learning centers in spring 2016 with construction concluding by year’s end.