Shedd Aquarium plans $500 million renovation, expansion with MWBE commitments

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shedd aquarium
© Shedd Aquarium in collaboration with Thinc/Valerio Dewalt Train

Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium says it will start work in 2022 on a $500 million project to “renovate the aquarium, add educational and experimental programs and deepen community partnerships over the course of eight years, among other initiatives,” NBC-5 reports.

The four phase construction project is expected to be complete in 2026, Shedd officials said in a Jan. 11 news release.

The makeover will provide “a modernized experience” by making galleries more accessible, interactive, immersive and science-rich. Construction plans include the Learning Commons – “a technologically-advanced, flexible space” that will provide more educational opportunities for children and expand the existing classroom space.

The project will create economic opportunities for diverse contractors in Chicago, the statement says.

“Shedd has mandated self-imposed goals to award subcontracting packages to diverse targets of at least 26% and 6% MBE/WBE vendors, 50% of total onsite labor work hours to Chicago residents, and 25% of all onsite labor work hours to minority and female workers. Additionally, Shedd has also committed to ensuring hundreds of thousands of dollars go directly into the pockets of nearby Chicagoans, creating greater economic mobility and benefit for communities closest to Museum Campus.”

The project’s diverse spending goals are considered “the floor and not the ceiling,” according to the aquarium, as the organization’s ambition is to surpass all initial planned percentages.

In addition, contractors are strongly encouraged to commit to participating in one or more Chicago Public School (CPS) “Work-Based Learning” programs such as the Job Shadow Week, CPS’ Guest Speaker Series, Site Visit Week, Soft Skills Month and Career and/or the Technical Education Training (CTE) Summer Internship Program. These commitments will allow for real-world skill-building and career exploration opportunities for local teens.

“We are proud that Shedd has committed to making sure that diversity and equity are central to this project,” city Alderperson Sophia King said in the statement. “This includes preference given to residents in Chicago’s 4th Ward and the surrounding neighborhoods of Douglas, Grand Boulevard, Hyde Park, Kenwood, North Kenwood, Oakland, and the South Loop. Through this work, we will spread the economic benefit to areas that have been overlooked for too long.”

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