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Construction and Special Projects Manager

The Construction and Special Projects Manager contributes to the success of the Chicago Zoological Society by overseeing the effective management of construction, special projects, and events as assigned, which contribute to the Society’s goals of providing an extraordinary guest experience, high standards of animal welfare and safety, and financial sustainability.  Opened in 1934, the Brookfield Zoo’s 216 acre campus includes numerous and varied buildings and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems that require regular maintenance, upgrades, and repair.  The Construction and Special Projects Manager will be responsible for managing all facets of the more complex maintenance and upgrade projects while ensuring that the most fiscally responsible and “green” decisions are made.

Primary duties and responsibilities:

  • Leads and facilitates projects from conceptual design and bid process through construction and commissioning.  Serves as primary liaison with clients, external consultants, designers, architects, general contractors, and Society staff.  Regularly inspects work to ensure compliance with all standards and specifications.  Responsible for all Cook County/Brookfield/Riverside permits, from the application process through final inspections.  This includes, but is not limited to:  annual tent permits, generator, carousel, swimming facility, elevators, and one time only permits for capital projects, special events, and large repairs.
  • Develops estimates and final project budgets.  Tracks expenses against budget, monitors schedules, and ensures accuracy and production of scheduled reports.  Ensures accuracy of financial and expense records, compliance with purchasing procedures, proper administration of contracts, processes change orders, and invoices.  Reviews contractor’s project pay applications for accuracy, appropriate waivers, approved change orders, and certified payroll.  Verifies invoiced amounts accurately reflect completed work done to date.  Creates, monitors and updates schedules, produces periodic reports and analyzes impacts of schedule changes.  Assures complete and accurate data is maintained using project management software program.  Reports regularly to supervisor on progress and budget, or as appropriate or requested.
  • Presents project plans and reports at various stages.  Meets with representatives from departments impacted by the project and delivers effective internal communications and updates on progress.  Works closely with internal stakeholders on deliverables and ensures approvals at various stages are secured.  Holds contractors and staff accountable for their responsibilities throughout the entire project.  Holds weekly meetings or conference calls with contractors.  Monitors and directs contractor operations to ensure safe conditions are maintained for staff, living collection and guests.  Notifies supervisors of any deviations or variances from project timeline, deliverables, or budget.
  • Maintains a five-year Society Capital Plan, including detailed descriptions, budget estimates, and prioritization of projects.  Maintains an annual Plant & Facilities Capital Project list and calendar, providing updates weekly or as required.  Organizes and maintains all hard and electronic copies of existing blue prints, drawings and reports and works to convert same to electronic files.
  • Assists Plant & Facilities managers and other Society managers in creating scopes of work and requests for proposal as assigned.  Works with all Plant & Facility managers to determine construction/project standards and details, when possible, and maintains an electronic file of same.
  • Other related duties as necessary to assure successful completion of assigned construction projects.

This position includes the following requirements:

  • Associate’s degree in Construction Management, Architecture, or Engineering or other directly related field or four years of equivalent experience is required.
  • Seven years’ experience managing major construction projects with similar scope of responsibilities.  Experience with construction contracts, project costing, bidding process, project oversight, close-out and documentation systems, budget management, and general accounting principles.
  • Computer proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint.
  • Excellent coordinating and follow-up/follow through skills.
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment, thrive under pressure, and meet critical deadlines.
  • Excellent organizational, prioritization, decision-making and problem-solving skills.
  • Strong interpersonal and communications skills, verbal and written.  Ability to establish and maintain strong working relationships.
  • English fluency at a full professional proficient level.
  • Ability to handle multiple projects and priorities simultaneously and work within a fast-paced environment.
  • Must be highly flexible and able to respond and adapt easily to constant and rapid change.
  • Must be strategic in his/her orientation and a team player.  Ability to lead and work cooperatively in teams.
  • Detail oriented, with a focus on quality, completeness and accuracy.
  • Ability to work with minimal supervision.
  • Experience and/or ability to work and interact effectively with a diverse, multicultural audience.
  • A valid driver’s license is required on date of hire.  If an Illinois resident, must possess a valid Illinois driver’s license at the time of hire or must obtain one within 90 days of hire.  A valid out-of-state driver’s license is required at time of hire for out-of-state residents.

The preferred qualifications include:

  • A technical Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Construction Management, Architecture, or Engineering is a plus.
  • Auto Cad proficiency desired.
  • Experience with Project Scheduler, Microsoft Project or other project management software is highly desired.
  • Multilingual ability, Spanish fluency a plus.

Additional Information:  This position description summarizes the primary duties and functions of this position, but should not be considered a complete listing of every duty the incumbent may ever be called upon to perform.  This position requires an experienced, self-motivated professional.  Incumbent is required to gain a solid understanding of the organization, its mission, vision, values, history, and operating philosophies, and how construction projects impact the Society, the zoo, individual departments and outside organizations, contractors, vendors, etc.  Must be persistent, results-oriented, and confident.  Incumbent must have a commitment to excellence.  Must be highly sensitive to and considerate of the impact of construction, exhibit, and materials on animals, staff, and guests.  Must strive to retain as many native trees and other flora as possible and incorporate into design.  As many aspects of the projects as possible (animal holding, learning spaces, food and beverage, merchandise) are to reflect the best thinking in “green architecture.”  This may require the use of specialized, outside consultants, partnerships, local and national engineering firms and other industry experts.  Evenings, early mornings, and weekends may be required.  Individual will be expected to be present and visible at designated events sponsored by the Society for employees, Board members, and/or other professional participants and audiences and will represent the zoo externally.  Some travel may be required.  Thus, individual must be willing to make a significant commitment to the organization.

The Chicago Zoological Society is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

If interested in being considered for this opportunity, please visit the CZS Career Center to obtain more details about the position and to apply by submitting your profile.  Please visit our website at  Please look for requisition number 1653BR.