The Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago (BOMA/Chicago) announced the winners of the Gold Circle and “The Outstanding Building of the Year” (TOBY) Awards at their recent awards event held in virtual format.
Now in its twelfth year, BOMA/Chicago’s Gold Circle Awards honor individual excellence within Chicago’s commercial real estate community in six categories: Property Management Professional of the Year, Building Engineer of the Year, Security Professional of the Year, Emerging Leader of the Year, Affiliate Member of the Year and Janitorial Professional of the Year. Nominees were judged on a wide range of criteria, including their professional accomplishments, involvement in BOMA/Chicago and positive impact on Chicago’s commercial real estate community.
“Throughout the pandemic, building personnel have kept our buildings running day in and day out to support tens of thousands of businesses and essential work across the city,” said Farzin Parang, executive director of BOMA/Chicago. “Our members’ leadership shines bright, and we commend our Gold Circle Award winners for their notable achievements, innovation and commitment.”
The 2021 Gold Circle Award winners are:
Property Management Professional of the Year: Andre Wiggins, MB Real Estate, Richard J Daley Center
Wiggins is senior vice president and general manager with MB Real Estate at the Richard J. Daley Center. A public building in the heart of the Central Loop, the Daley Center is the home to Cook County Circuit Courts, welcomes 20,000 visitors a day, hosts 300 annual events on the plaza and serves as the unofficial home to most downtown protest activity. Despite these unique challenges, Wiggins ensures the building’s safety for tenants, visitors and building staff alike, while spearheading the building’s COVID-19 preparedness and mitigation efforts. He has also initiated numerous projects to reduce costs and drive revenue earning activities including energy efficiency initiatives saving 500,000 kWh usage each year, marketing and leasing of vacancies, increased revenues and expanded use of plaza event space. Wiggins also participates in buildOn’s mentorship program, coordinates workshops to encourage minority business participation at the building and is a volunteer basketball coach at Romeo Elementary School.
Walker, director of security with Hines and Titan Security Group at River Point, is a vetted private sector partner of the State Terrorism Information Center and certified by the Chicago Fire Prevention Bureau as the building’s Fire and Life Safety Director. Always focused on his tenants, Walker works closely with the Chicago Police Department 12th District and the Department of Homeland Security to secure additional resources and raise awareness. In addition to leading the installation of a new building-wide security system through Kastle Systems, Walker provides regular shift briefings, facilitates one-on-one team member trainings and has developed mentoring plans for each of his supervisors and customer service representatives to help them reach their goals. During his free time, Walker volunteers with alcohol and drug addiction programs at Swedish Covenant Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital, Illinois Masonic Hospital and Lutheran Social Services, and participates with the Edgewater Mutual Aid Network.
Building Engineer of the Year: Kurt Anderson, Zeller, 401 North Michigan Avenue
Anderson serves as chief engineer with Zeller at 401 North Michigan Avenue. He has instructed Illinois Institute of Technology classes and hosted IUOE Local 399’s Union Boiler Operations classes to highlight best practices in efficiency and sustainability. Under the direction of Anderson and his team, 401 achieved LEED Platinum certification and BOMA 360 designation. Over the past five-year period, his team has mitigated over $555,000 in energy costs and reduced energy usage by 5 to 15 percent each year. In 2020, Anderson managed an in-house installation of smart building technology to save energy and provide space comfort for tenants. He also implemented the SmartSuites program to allow tenants’ personal control of lighting and temperature. Anderson championed the Yellow Tractor Project, allowing employees and tenants to grow and harvest vegetable gardens in landscaping beds at Zeller properties. Anderson has been a leader with the Boy Scouts of America for over 10 years.
Janitorial Professional of the Year: Stacy Wrobel, Harvard Maintenance and Northwestern Memorial HealthCare
Wrobel, senior project manager with Harvard Maintenance at Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, oversees the entire janitorial staff for the 2.4 million square feet campus that includes commercial, medical, residential, childcare and parking facilities. Despite tremendous challenges arising from the pandemic, Wrobel continues to bring her positive outlook and professional attitude to everything she does from conducting inspections and safety trainings to engaging with tenants and helping increase employee retention. She has also spearheaded enhanced cleaning protocols and policies and finds solutions to problems that are both innovative and collaborative. Wrobel is also active in the community, regularly donating blood to Christ Hospital, volunteering at her local parish, St. Mary Star of the Sea and the West Lawn neighborhood watch program.
Emerging Leader of the Year: Zaena Rihani, Nominated by CBRE, formerly with 150 North Riverside
Rihani, nominated by CBRE, was promoted to assistant real estate manager in 2019 and was awarded the 2019 CBRE Rising Professional of the year. In addition to her participation at BOMA/Chicago events, Rihani is a member of BOMA/Chicago’s Ollie Scholarship Committee and was awarded the J. Michael Coleman Scholarship by BOMA International earlier this year. A Full Designation Scholarship winner, she achieved her RPA certificate in 2020, in addition to attaining her Illinois Brokers license and CMCP (Certified Manager of Commercial Properties) certification. Rihani also serves as president of the board of directors for the non-profit organization Syrian Community Network and is a Big Sister in the Big Brother Big Sister Program.
Affiliate Member of the Year: Jason Sikora, Allied Universal
As business development manager with Allied Universal, Sikora is highly active in the Chicago real estate and security community and well-known for bringing an exceptional customer-centric approach to his partnerships. Sikora is responsible for creating and advancing strategic partnerships and initiatives with Chicago area property managers; this past year, he was a featured speaker in BOMA/Chicago’s two-part “Touchless Solutions” webinar series that drew over 100 registrants. In addition to serving on BOMA/Chicago’s communications and emergency preparedness committees and a regular attendee at networking events, this year Sikora also became the vice chair of BOMA International’s National Associate Member (NAM) Council.
BOMA/Chicago also honored local buildings through the TOBY Awards, which recognize excellence in office building management. This year, 15 TOBY Award finalists competed in seven categories based on building size and facility type. They were judged on tenant relations initiatives, commitment to environmental sustainability, emergency preparedness, budgeting, work order systems, security standards, staff experience, continuing education opportunities and more.
The following seven buildings earned TOBY Awards:
Earth Award: 353 North Clark, managed by CBRE and owned by HART 353 North Clark
“BOMA/Chicago offers our congratulations to all of TOBY award winners as they advance to the regional competition—they are truly leaders in our industry,” said Derrick Johnson, BOMA/Chicago president. “Despite facing an incredibly challenging year, each of these building management teams and owners are to be commended for their resilience and their innovative approach to building operations, property management, and tenant relations.”
BOMA/Chicago TOBY Award winners will be invited to participate in the North Central Regional TOBY competition, where they will compete against local TOBY winners from cities in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio. Regional winners will then compete for the BOMA International TOBY Awards, one of the highest honors in the commercial real estate industry.