Daily digest: The Obama Presidential Center breaks ground, the McGraw-Hill Building renovation is complete, and more

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Daily digest: The Obama Presidential Center breaks ground, the McGraw-Hill Building renovation is complete, and more

Construction work on the Obama Presidential Center at Chicago’s Jackson Park has officially begun. (Courtesy Obama Foundation)

Greetings and welcome back to the final days of September, complete with today’s breaking news.

Here’s what you need to know:

Chicago’s Obama Presidential Center formally breaks ground

One month after the Barack Obama Presidential Center (OPC) technically broke ground in Chicago’s historic Jackson Park, a formal groundbreaking ceremony with former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama is taking place. After years of contentious lawsuits between the Obama Foundation and preservationists over the Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects-designed center’s location in the Olmsted and Vaux-designed, National Register of Historic Places-listed park, today marks the first official day of work on the OPC. The event is being livestreamed on the foundation’s website.

The contested McGraw-Hill Building renovation is now complete

In somewhat similar news, MDeaS Architects’ renovation of the McGraw-Hill Building in Midtown Manhattan is now complete. Originally designed by Raymond Hood and completed in 1931, the building’s exterior is a protected New York City landmark while its 1930s-era art moderne lobby is not. Two weeks after a New York State Supreme Court judge rejected preservationists’ efforts to have the dismantled lobby reinstalled, the $120 million interior conversion of the art deco tower into modern office is finished.

H/t to New York YIMBY

“Ghost forests” are expanding along the East Coast

Seas of “bleached” white cedar trees are spreading up and down the Eastern Seaboard as saltwater intrusion and rising temperatures kill off the area’s precious coastal forests. These ghost forests, dead but still-standing remnants of trees up to and over 80 years old, are more than a very tangible, visible impact of climate change. As these waterfront forests die off, New Jersey and other states along the Eastern Seaboard are losing an important buffer against flooding (and creating a feedback loop as forests further inland are put in danger of being exposed to saltwater as sea levels rise).

H/t to NBC News

Despite the risks, many contractors don’t have plans for extreme weather

Speaking of climate change, it turns out many employers across the United States don’t have codified protections or protocols for workers facing down extreme heat, high winds, flooding, and other environmental hazards. Outdoor workers like those on a construction site can’t work remote during inclement conditions and creating an action plan will become more important than ever as environmental stressors continue to worsen. OSHA is also reportedly working to create a federal standard on addressing heat-related illnesses on jobsites.

H/ to Construction Dive

Japan’s Super Nintendo World will expand with a Donkey Kong addition

Rumors that the Super Nintendo World theme park in Osaka was set to expand appear to have been correct, as today Nintendo announced a major expansion set to open next door at Universal Studios Japan. Although Super Nintendo World only just opened this summer (delayed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic alongside the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo), the park has proven so popular that construction has already begun on the jungle-themed Donkey Kong area next door. Although it won’t open until 2024, visitors will have a mine cart ride, giant temple, and themed food to look forward to—and from a rendering released by Nintendo, it appears the Donkey Kong section will rival the original park in size.

The Washington National Cathedral will replace its Confederacy-honoring stained-glass windows

The second-largest church in the U.S., the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., has commissioned Kerry James Marshall to replace two stained-glass windows removed due to their depictions of Confederate generals. The windows glorifying Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were pulled four years ago to help create a more inclusive environment, and Marshall will replace them with four sections dedicated to racial justice sometime in 2023. The removed windows are slated to go on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall.

H/t to the New York Times