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April 15, 2008


Note: If you're coming to our Breakfast & Schmooze tomorrow morning with Louis Dreyfus, it's at BLT Steak, NOT the usual City Club. Also, Dreyfus has a big new project in DC that it'll be talking about for the first time. Just a little teaser! More event info





In 1990, when Deryl McKissack decided to carry on her family's architecture and engineering legacy, she had $1000 in the bank and one employee: herself. Eighteen years later, the CEO of McKissack & McKissack oversees 150 people in DC, Chicago, Miami, and Baltimore, doing project management assignments on construction activities exceeding $11 billion (like supervising permitting and inspectors at Nationals Park). An outgrowth of the oldest minority-owned architecture/engineering firm in the US, McKissack & McKissack has worked on marquee projects like the renovation of the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials and ATF Headquarters, and is soon to begin on  the $50M Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.


Deryl showed us this picture of her grandfather, Moses McKissack III, in the firm's 1401 New York Ave. Moses was the first licensed black architect in Tennessee and founded the first McKissack & McKissack company in Nashville in 1905 with his brother. However, firm roots date back pre-Civil War, when Deryl's great-great grandfather, a slave from the Ashanti tribe in Ghana, learned the trade of building. Eventually, he became a master builder and earned his freedom. After four generations of male McKissacks, Deryl said her father had all daughters so he advised her "go to college and meet a nice man to run the company." Deryl predicts the next four generations of McKissacks will be all women, so she's already grooming her four-year-old daughter to be CEO.            


Deryl and head of architecture operations Bruce Sanford, with the rendering of the 320k SF mixed-use Gateway Market Center that will sit at the new Metro Station at Florida and NY Avenues. The development includes 116 condos, 185-space garage, 45k SF of office, and 45k SF of retail. Gateway's in the PUD process now, and slated to break ground this summer.


Deryl with Senior VP of Operations Joe Bowen. They tell us they just signed the contract for the $3.5B DC Public Schools Stabilization and Modernization Project. In conjunction with facility planners Brailsford & Dunlavey, McKissack & McKissack is providing program management for the renovation and construction of 150 schools. Deryl says the deal is the first minority-won program management job of this scale in a major urban city.


Bruce shows us a rendering of the MLK Jr. Memorial, which begins construction Q4 and will sit at the northeast corner of the Tidal Basin, steps from where King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.  The design plays off of one of King's other famous passages about hewing "out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope."

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