The Public Building Commission of Chicago (PBC) chose the firms of SmithGroup and Stantec as the architect and engineer for the Morgan Shoal reconstruction project during its October 6, 2021, meeting.
Planning for the Morgan Shoal project, which will add seven acres of parkland to the stretch of lakefront from 45th to 51st streets, concluded its first phase with the publication of the Morgan Shoal Framework Plan in March of 2015.
Earlier this year, the Herald reported that after a hiatus of about six years the process was moving forward. In a May 18, 2021, informational session for potential Architects of Record (AORs) and Engineers of Record (EORs), the PBC presented the scope of the project and an estimated construction budget of between $30 and $50 million to a group of about 70 interested individuals.
After the informational session, the PBC received proposals from five firms to provide AOR/EOR services for the project.
The PBC then "convened an evaluation committee of experienced staff from the Park District, CDOT and the PBC," said PBC Executive Director Carina Sánchez.
"The committee assessed the submissions and selected three firms to attend follow-up interviews," Sánchez continued.
"By consensus, the evaluation committee recommends the team of SmithGroup plus Stantec to serve as Architect of Record / Engineering of Record for the project under a task order based master agreement in an amount not to exceed five million dollars," said Sánchez.
"The team has a detailed understanding of the project and has committed to exceeding the minority and women owned business enterprise participation for this project," added Sánchez.
SmithGroup was the lead design firm in the production of the 2015 Morgan Shoal Framework Plan and the 2018 South Lakefront Framework Plan.
Stantec, headquartered in Alberta, Canada, is an engineering and design firm with branch offices around the world, including four in Illinois.
Commenting on the project during the meeting, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who serves as PBC board chair, said, "This is a very important project for residents of that area of Lake Michigan, which have seen historic flooding every time that there's a major storm. So, we're hoping that this will be the first phase of shoreline revetment. We have been working with our federal representatives to make sure that the Army Corps of Engineers has the necessary resources to continue that revetment work. But this is a necessary first start."
Park District Board president and PBC Commissioner Avis Lavelle said, "I can assure you that there will be a strong community process. We know this is an activist community and they like to speak loudly about everything that happens there and make sure that their point of view is registered. And we are prepared to make sure that we take all of that into consideration as we approach this project."
To which Mayor Lightfoot responded. "Yes, we love our friends in South Shore."
Cook County Board President and PBC Commissioner Toni Preckwinkle said, "I represented this area when I was alderman. I want to commend the city for separating this part of the reach from the revetment controversies that extend further south of 51st Street. Doing 45th to 51st I think is a great idea. And I think there will be a lot of community support for that work. As I said, separating it from the controversy about the reach further south is a great idea."
The PBC voted unanimously to engage SmithGroup and Stantec as the AOR/EOR for the project.
In a statement to the Herald, a spokesman for the Public Building Commission said that the specifics of the contract between the PBC and the SmithGroup and Stantec are being worked out, so that an exact date for the project to start wasn’t yet available. He did add, "We will involve stakeholders in the design process and we will have public meetings during the design process."