Joining an elite group of successful family-run businesses whose work has spanned across two centuries, McHugh Construction has marked its 125-year anniversary by donating $125,000 to a variety of organizations and installing commemorative window displays of some of its most iconic projects throughout history at its headquarters at 1737 S. Michigan Ave. in Chicago’s South Loop.
In honor of its anniversary, McHugh’s monetary contributions and employee volunteer efforts benefitted the following organizations: HIRE 360, The 100 Club of Illinois, Cole Chabad, ACE Mentor Programs, Refugee One, SOS Children, March of Dimes, John Buck Company Foundation, The Community Builders, Chicago Blackhawks Charities and ReVive Center for Housing and Healing.
Founded by James D. McHugh in 1897, just four years after the World’s Columbian Exposition, McHugh Construction has grown from a bricklaying business to one of the largest general contractors in the Midwest. And in the past few years, the company has seen tremendous growth, entering new markets such as Nashville and Miami. The founder’s great granddaughter Patricia McHugh now leads the company as chairman.
McHugh first gained momentum as a general contractor in the early 21st century. By the late 1930s, McHugh had completed an ornate theater in Cicero, Ill., and a municipal building in Berwyn, Ill. Following World War II, the firm tackled even larger and more ambitious projects. By the 1960s, the McHugh name had garnered world-wide fame for its innovative approach to building Marina City, the first urban high-rise residential complex in the U.S.
James P. McHugh, grandson of founder James D. McHugh, led the effort to construct Chicago’s iconic “corncob” towers at Marina City. The complex of two 587-foot, 65-story apartment towers, a 10-story hotel and a saddle-shaped auditorium building was built on a raised platform along the Chicago River. Marina City was the first building in the country to be constructed with the Linden climbing tower cranes, which are still used today to build high-rises.
With that vision, the firm subsequently served as concrete contractor for Water Tower Place in 1976 and Two Prudential Plaza in 1988, both of which were also the tallest reinforced concrete structures in the world when they were built. In all, McHugh has poured concrete for eight of Chicago’s 10 tallest concrete buildings.
McHugh’s impact can be felt everywhere in the contractor’s hometown, whether it be catching a game at the United Center where the firm was responsible for over a dozen projects including the massive East Addition, celebrating a night out at the beautiful Gibson’s Italia or taking in a show at the Goodman Theatre or Civic Opera House. McHugh has given new life to landmarked buildings and restored a majority of Chicago’s hotels, including major renovation projects for the city’s five-star destinations like the recently completed Four Seasons Hotel. In the mid-80s McHugh constructed Presidential Towers, igniting the area’s transformation into the neighborhood we now know as the West Loop. McHugh continues to build numerous luxury condominium towers in the now booming neighborhood, along with McDonald’s Global Headquarters. Some of the Chicago skyline’s most recent stars, St. Regis Chicago, NEMA and Aqua at Lakeshore East, have been built by McHugh.
A lifelong South Side company, McHugh moved its headquarters in the early 2000s from McCormick Square’s growing campus to a historic building located on “Motor Row,” where the loyalty of the employees rivals only that of its neighborhood baseball team. The longevity of McHugh employees is rarely seen these days, with many serving the firm for 30-, even 40-plus years.
With more than 350 team members, McHugh Construction and McHugh Concrete Construction are currently involved in more than 1 million square feet of active construction work across multiple property types, including Class A residential towers, affordable housing communities, luxury hotels, office buildings, entertainment venues, sports complexes and healthcare facilities.
In 2019, McHugh Concrete Construction officially began operating as a separate company under the McHugh Enterprises umbrella to better focus on clients’ concrete needs. As one of the first contractors in the world to use proprietary green concrete for high-rise construction, McHugh Concrete recently poured a new low-carbon concrete mix on The Reed, a 41-story residential tower in Chicago. As a result, embodied carbon in the project’s concrete was reduced by up to 40% relative to baseline mixes. McHugh Concrete looks forward to driving continuous innovation and improvement to the efficiency and environmental friendliness of concrete.
As for the future, the McHugh family of companies will continue the core values of honesty and integrity as well as its commitment to diversifying the industry.
With a 125-year anniversary video currently in production and scheduled to be released before the end of the year, McHugh’s leadership team is now looking toward the future and envisioning what the next 125 years will look like for the firm and for Chicago’s skyline. Some of McHugh’s current projects include the 74-story 1000M on one of the last undeveloped Michigan Avenue lots across from Grant Park; three residential towers in the West Loop: the 34-story Cassidy on Canal, 16-story Embry and 28-story 225 Elizabeth; Platform 4611, a nine-story mixed-use apartment building in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood steps from the Wilson CTA stop; 43 Green, a 10-story equitable transit-oriented, mixed-income, mixed-use project in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood near the 43rd Street CTA station; Howard Brown Health Clinic, a five-story healthcare facility and medical office building on Chicago’s North Side; FanDuel Sportsbook, a 13,000-square-foot sports betting venue at the United Center; the historic renovation of the Ramova Theater in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood; and FlyOver in Chicago – an indoor flying ride coming to Chicago’s historic Navy Pier in Spring 2024.