CCAC eNews
February 2019
CCAC eNews is the monthly newsletter of the Chicago Central Area Committee. For more information about the CCAC or to inquire about membership, please contact Kelly O'Brien at (312) 602-5148 or
Download the 2019 Meeting Calendar (PDF)!
The CCAC 2019 Meeting Calendar is ready to download in PDF format. The Calendar lists this year's dates and locations for our popular luncheon speaker series, hosted each month by a different CCAC member organization.
(NOTE: Locations subject to change--see website for newest calendar. Meetings open to paid members and guests, only.)

Download the CCAC 2019 Meeting Calendar (PDF)
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CCAC Hears From Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill 
CCAC would like to thank Adrian Smith, Founder, Gordon Gill, Founder, Richard Wilson, City Design Director, and Alejandro Stochetti, Design Director, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG), for hosting and presenting an overview of the master planning for Expo 2020 Dubai and design of Al Wasl Plaza, the central attraction of the event, to the membership at the February 12th monthly meeting.
After welcoming CCAC and providing a brief history of AS+GG including design highlights of their new office, world renowned architect, Adrian Smith, outlined the presentation by stating that it would include a look back at the Expo 2017 in Astana.
Next, Gordon Gill, one of the world’s foremost exponents of performance-based architecture, was introduced to the audience. His work ranges from some of the world’s tallest buildings to sustainable communities and is driven by his philosophy that there is a purposeful relationship between formal design and performance. He then introduced the firm’s portfolio of global events planning and design and explained how the firm became involved in Expo 2020 Dubai.  
Richard Wilson then presented an overview of Global Expo events and reminded members about the tremendous impact the World’s Columbia Exposition of 1893 had not only on our City and how the world sees us, but also in the creation of game changers. The Columbian exposition leveraged the largest land annexation in Chicago’s history during the lead-up to the Fair. That event’s lasting impacts include the introduction of electric lights, inspiration for the first Comprehensive Plan for a US city - the 1909 Plan of Chicago - and the “City Beautiful” movement that influence public space and building design in cities across the Nation.  Dubai will celebrate their 50th anniversary and this is an opportunity for them to welcome the world, put into practice the art of innovation, see what emerges from this and how it will impact the United Arab Emirates (UAE). “Roughly 2/3 of the world’s population lives within an 8 hour plane ride of Dubai and the city has transformed into a hub of economic and cultural convergence,” Wilson stated.
(L:R) Kelly O'Brien, Executive Director, CCAC; Gordon Gill, Founder, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture; Adrian Smith, Founder, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture; Richard Wilson, City Design Director, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture and Greg Hummel, Partner, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner and CCAC Board Chairman.
The AS+GG presentation highlighted the Expo 2017 Astana, Expo 2020 Dubai, and the Al Wasl Plaza Project:
Expo Astana 2017
The theme for Expo in Astana was “Future Energy” and was aimed at finding ways to achieve qualitative changes in the energy sector, primarily for the development of alternative sources of energy and new ways of transportation. Alejandro Stochetti was the design director from AS+GG and said, “the overall development was 10 million sq. ft., and AS+GG designed 6.5 million sq. ft of the massive land. All interested companies were coming to the table to add renewable energy. When we talk about sustainability, we talk about legacy. The companies were using investments from the national companies and adding private value. The solution to these concerns ensures economic growth and improved social standards, while reducing the burden on the environment.”
Expo Dubai 2020
The Expo is one part of a strategic initiative to grow the city of Dubai and its logistics and aviation sectors. The theme of the Expo is: ‘Connecting Minds and Creating the Future.’ Dubai is organizing a global conversation on mobility, sustainability, and opportunity. This is defined as empowering people, including women and children, from all over the world to identify and realize social and economic opportunities.  “Our goal was to help the UAE leverage the tremendous opportunity that comes with hosting the World Expo, both in terms of the Expo visitor experience and its long-lasting legacy impacts,” Wilson expressed.
The concept of drivers are important to the CCAC membership. Wilson stated, “Dubai’s driver is not to put on a party, however, that is the nice part of it. The ultimate goal for Dubai is to understand how they can double the size of the municipality in the next 10-15 years. The Dubai International Airport, World Trade Center, Exhibition Center, Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai, Dubai Mall, and the Jebel Ali, which is the busiest deep-sea port in the world, with a major free trade zone, all have been foundation stones of their economic growth over the last 20 years.”
A new initiative called Dubai South was formed to build the world’s largest freight and passenger logistics hub. Construction has already begun to relocate the International Airport adjacent to the Expo site and pair it with their logistics and seaport operations. “Dubai is using the Expo to introduce its growth strategy to the world, and to implement a liveable, walkable high-tech hub of innovation and technology as the legacy use after the event,” Wilson stated.
February 9th CCAC luncheon audience
Legacy Master Plan
The Legacy Master Plan provides the strategy for the transition from Expo to legacy uses to serve as the innovation hub of the Middle East. The legacy master plan was developed in tandem with the Expo master plan to assure that assets built for the Expo impart value for the UAE after the event.
Dubai is building a new Metro line and stations to connect downtown to the Expo and new airport; relocating the Dubai World Trade Centre, the largest conference center in the Middle East; building lower scale buildings for use by poorer nations during the Expo that will transition to office, residential and retail space in legacy mode to support small and medium sized enterprises; and, building four national pavilions.  The UAE Pavilion was inspired by the Falcon, the national bird of the UAE; the Mobility Pavilion will transform into the Logistics Mobility center for growth; the Sustainability Pavilion will become a children’s science Exploratorium; and the Opportunity Pavilion will seed and support entrepreneurship by women and children.  Creating a true live-work-play-learn environment, which is not common in this region, could have a tremendous lasting impact similar to the Chicago World’s Fair.
Al Wasl Plaza Project
The Expo 2020 logo is based upon a 4,000-year-old bronze era ring unearthed in the Al Marmum district of Dubai.  The ring was chosen for the Expo branding because it celebrates the unique heritage of the UAE people and is reflected in all aspects of the Expo design.  
Al Wasl is the Arabic word defined as “the connector” or “the center.”  The British used to refer to Dubai as Al Wasl. Gordon Gill stated, “We began to try to understand what type of structure to create, as the preconception was to build an object – an Eiffel tower-type structure - in the center of the Expo. We took a different approach by envisioning a purposefully-designed public space for the UAE instead of an object.”
AS+GG designed Al Wasl Plaza, the equivalent of a Millennium Park, at the center of the Expo and framed it with five multi-story buildings that cantilever out to maximize views down into the plaza. These buildings will contain office and hotel uses post Expo.  The entire plaza is covered with a trellis structure based upon the Expo logo that provides shade by day and then transitions to a 360-degree projection screen by night.
“The Trellis is a steel structure that has fabric panels that reflect light. AS+GG is working with Obscura, the San Francisco-based firm that developed the digital art projection show Art on theMART in Chicago. We’re looking at the transformation of cultural impact, using Dubai’s historical ring and what that means in terms of the architecture. The end result was a concept for the world’s largest immersive entertainment venue,” Gill expressed.
Given the planning expertise of AS+GG, a question was asked about the process of repurposing Chicago’s lakefront, in response to Governor Pritzker appointing a task force analyzing Chicago’s assets. Richard Wilson recommended, “finding a way to draw the lakefront value much deeper into our existing City and neighborhoods, along with creating meaningful and welcoming things to do that invite populations that may not see themselves as having a place on the lakefront.” Adrian Smith, reminded us that “Chicago is the midwestern tourism hub, and we should build on that. Tourism brings in money and that adds to the economy from the outside.” 
Prior to the conclusion of the monthly meeting, CCAC Executive Director, Kelly O’Brien, made a special announcement. “With the support of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, CCAC is sponsoring a VIP Delegation to visit Dubai in Q1 of 2021. This will be an extraordinary trip with special access and will be a once in a lifetime opportunity. If you’re interested in attending, please e-mail CCAC Executive Director Kelly O’Brien, 
 Greg Hummel, Partner, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner; Adrian Smith, Founder, Gordon Gill, Founder, of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture speaking to the February 12th CCAC Audience
Chicago Central City Strategy Initiative Team Meetings 
As a follow-up to the December 5th CCAC Central City Strategy Roundtable discussing infrastructure connectivity, economic development, and digital planning for growth in the City as an investment framework, the working teams are continuing to meet.  If you did not attend the December 5th session, you are still welcome to get involved. As a reminder, the goal of this initiative is to complete a white paper in April to submit to the new Mayor.
  • The Digital Planning working team will meet on Thursday, February 28, 2019 from 9:00 am-11:00 am inside the law office of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, 161 N. Clark Street, Suite 4300, Chicago, IL 60601.
  • The Infrastructure of Connectivity working team recently met on 2/22 and will continue to finalize the existing outline and project descriptions. Please forward your notes and ideas to
  • The next Catalytic Economic Projects working team meeting will be held on Thursday, March 7, 2019 from 9:30 am-11:30 am in the offices of Perkins + Will, located inside the Wrigley Building, 410 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1600, Chicago, IL 60611.
For more information and to add members to participate, e-mail Kelly O'Brien,
Next CCAC Meeting:
Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at Drinker, Biddle & Reath
Join us at the offices of Drinker Biddle & Reath on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 for the February CCAC Luncheon hosted by Michael Csar, Partner and Natalie Farmer, Associate, both of Drinker Biddle & Reath. CCAC  Members and Young Leaders are invited to attend this meeting. 
“A New Mayor and a New City Council. A New Chicago?”
What I’m Looking for on April 2nd and Beyond
Mike Flannery is the political editor at FOX 32 News. Previously, he covered politics at CBS2 Chicago for over 30 years. Join us as Flannery will share his thoughts on the results of the Chicago Mayoral Race following the February 26th election as well as what to expect on April 2nd. In addition, Flannery will discuss insights into the activities in Springfield and thoughts on the new Pritzker Administration in order to help our members better understand the political scene and how it may impact businesses and the economy.
Mike Flannery
Chicago Political Editor
Fox 32 News Chicago
Michael Csar

Natalie Farmer

Drinker Biddle Reath LLP
Tuesday, March 12, 2019
12:00 pm- 1:30 pm.
Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP
191 North Wacker Drive
Suite 3700
Chicago, IL 60606
Kelly O'Brien at 

CCAC Young Leaders Quarterly Event 
Strategy Session
"Be a Part of History"
Mark Your Calendar for Tuesday, March 26, 2019 
4:30 pm
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner
The CCAC Young Leader Tier is changing names, creating a new brand and building on its successes.

We invite you to help chart the course for its next chapter.

Join us for a workshop focused on how best to position the group, increase membership within the group and create an outline for its activities.
Date: Tuesday, March 26, 2019 

Time: 4:30 pm

Location: Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, 161 N. Clark Street, Suite 4300, Chicago, IL
Thank You For Your Continued Membership
CCAC remains committed to being at the forefront of creating the City’s identity, shaping the vision of a global destination and helping to set the right priorities to attract broad based investment. Your continued membership allows your voice to be heard.
Getting involved provides a unique opportunity to give back to the City you call home based on your professional expertise.  Your talents will help shape our tomorrow. 2019 membership invoices have been mailed and sent via e-mail.
If you have any questions, please contact Executive Director, Kelly O'Brien at, (312) 602-5148.
2019 Lunch Meeting Venues
Thank you for our members who have graciously agreed to host the 2019 monthly membership meetings.
January 8th:  Perkins + Will
February 12th: Adrian Smith+ Gordon Gill Architecture
March 12th: Drinker Biddle & Reath
April 9: Arcadis
May 14: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
June 11: The Habitat Company
July 9: Wight & Company
August: (No meeting scheduled)
September 10: Jenner & Block
October 8: Level-(1) Global Solutions
November 12: BatesForum
December 10: Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner

To access the complete calendar, please CLICK HERE.
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