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Louis Jones

Louis Jones is president of Louis Jones Enterprises, Inc. and serves on the Board of Directors for the Black Contractors United. He was born on July 1, 1946 in Hunstville, Alabama to Arthur and Alberta Jones. His father was a farmer and construction worker in the South, but when his family moved to Chicago his father became a baker with the A&P grocery chain factories. Jones attended Tilden Technical High School before earning his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle in 1973. In 1969, Jones began working for Skidmore, Owings and Merrill architects. In 1973, Jones began working for McKee-Berger-Mansueto as a School Rehab Manager.

In 1975, Jones became a licensed architect and moved to San Francisco, where he worked for a private consulting firm. He moved back to Chicago three years later and began working for Schal Associates. Between 1978 and 1984, Schal Associates built the Avondale Center, Madison Plaza, the Chicago Tribune Printing Plant, and the Magnificent Mile. In 1984, Jones became president of Louis Jones Enterprises, Inc., specializing in engineering, construction, management, consulting, and architecture. The following year, Louis Jones Enterprises, Inc. was part of the $1.7 billion renovation and expansion of O’Hare International Airport. The firm also was hired to work on Provident Hospital in 1990 and McCormick Place in 1997. In 2008, Jones' firm was hired to be part of the team to build the University of Illinois’, the James Stukel Towers student housing complex.

Since 1986, Jones sat on the Board of Directors for Black Contractors United and was elected Chairman of the Board in 1998. He was also selected to serve on the Mayor of Chicago’s Task Force for Minority & Women Business Development in 2005. Jones was a member of the Illinois Capital Development Board and has served as president pro tempore of the Illinois Department of Employment Security Advisory Board.

Louis Jones was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 27, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.030

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/27/2010

Last Name

Jones

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Bret Harte Math and Science Magnet Cluster School

Edward Tilden Career Community Academy High School

University of Illinois at Chicago

First Name

Louis

Birth City, State, Country

Huntsville

HM ID

JON23

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Fishing

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

7/1/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Estero

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Steak

Short Description

Architect and corporate chief executive Louis Jones (1946 - ) was president of Louis Jones Enterprises, Inc. and served on the board of directors for the Black Contractors United.

Employment

Skidmore Owings & Merrill

McKee, Berger & Mansueto

Schal Associates

Louis Jones Enterprises, Inc.

The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company

Regal Theater

Johnson and Jones Architects

Favorite Color

Navy Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Louis Jones' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Louis Jones lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Louis Jones describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Louis Jones describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Louis Jones remembers his paternal uncle, James Jones, Jr.

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Louis Jones talks about his paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Louis Jones talks about his family's history of enslavement

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Louis Jones describes his father's work at The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Louis Jones describes his family's community in Huntsville, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Louis Jones describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Louis Jones recalls his homes in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Louis Jones lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Louis Jones describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Louis Jones describes his experiences at Bret Harte Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Louis Jones recalls his early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Louis Jones recalls his friends at Bret Harte Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Louis Jones remembers his near drowning at the Hyde Park YMCA in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Louis Jones describes his experiences at Tilden Technical High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Louis Jones talks about his part time job at the Regal Theater in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Louis Jones remembers his extracurricular activities

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Louis Jones describes his decision to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Louis Jones remembers the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Louis Jones recalls his peers and professors at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Louis Jones talks about the visiting professors at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Louis Jones describes his architectural thesis

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Louis Jones talks about his favorite architectural style

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Louis Jones describes his part time position at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Louis Jones recalls his graduation from the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Louis Jones describes his organizational involvement at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Louis Jones describes his duties at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Louis Jones remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Louis Jones describes his transition to McKee Berger Mansueto, Inc. in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Louis Jones describes the role of a construction manager

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Louis Jones talks about his construction projects in California and Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Louis Jones describes his building projects with Schal Associates, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Louis Jones describes the founding of Louis Jones Enterprises, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Louis Jones talks about his early projects at Louis Jones Enterprises, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Louis Jones talks about the redevelopment of the Provident Hospital of Cook County in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Louis Jones recalls his work on the Harold Washington Library in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Louis Jones talks about the construction of the McCormick Place South Building in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Louis Jones talks about his involvement with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the Black Contractors United

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Louis Jones talks about his children

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Louis Jones talks about the success of Louis Jones Enterprises, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Louis Jones remembers the contracts secured by Louis Jones Enterprises, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Louis Jones describes his current projects at Louis Jones Enterprises, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Louis Jones reflects upon the specialty of Louis Jones Enterprises, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Louis Jones describes his role in the construction of ACE Technical Charter High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Louis Jones talks about his work at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Louis Jones talks about his organizational involvement

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Louis Jones describes the changes in building design after September 11, 2001

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Louis Jones describes the process of building a hospital

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Louis Jones describes his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Louis Jones talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Louis Jones reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Louis Jones narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

8$3

DATitle
Louis Jones describes the founding of Louis Jones Enterprises, Inc.
Louis Jones recalls his work on the Harold Washington Library in Chicago, Illinois
Transcript
And from Schal [Schal Associates, Inc., Chicago, Illinois], where did you go? And what year was this?$$Well Schal, I came to work for Schal in, in June of 1978 from, from San Francisco [California], and worked on 200 South Wacker [200 South Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois], Tribune plant [Freedom Center, Chicago, Illinois]. Then Schal joint ventured with McHugh [James McHugh Construction Company, Chicago, Illinois] and I was the project director for the North Hall of McCormick Place [McCormick Place North Building, Chicago, Illinois]. And that went through a couple iterations where it went way over budget and they, they started trying to pull it back and work on it. And at that time, a friend of mine, Eric Johnson, who I went to school with [at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle; University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois], we had a side business that was Johnson and Jones Architects [ph.]. So in the evening I would leave Schal, go around the corner and I had the license, I had gotten my architect's license. So I would look at the drawings that were being done, seal them, sign them, go home. So Schal kind of got wind of it. And this was in the era when there was big affirmative action pushes and Harold Washington, you know, was, was, was getting, getting in--in line to be mayor, you know, it was like in eighty--'82 [1982], '83 [1983] or something like that. So we started talking and they became a mentor company and they wanted to ow- hold a third of the deal and we were going to create Louis Jones Enterprises [Louis Jones Enterprises, Inc., Chicago, Illinois]. So I said okay, I don't wanna be accused of fronting for a big white company, so I gotta get somebody to look at this. So Sam Hurley [Samuel Hurley] was first deputy director, he's African American engineer, he's first deputy director of public works for the City of Chicago [Illinois]. And he was also on the city's affirmative action committee. Now they call it affirmative action. So I had Sam look at it. And he said, "Well, I know you Lou [HistoryMaker Louis Jones], I know you from Schal and all that, you know what you're doing, you're for real and all that kind of stuff. So why don't you, you know, move forward with it and see what." So then I turned it over to [HistoryMaker] Earl Neal who gave it to Anne Fredd [Anne L. Fredd] in his office to evaluate.$$Earl Neal was a black attorney?$$Yeah. And then they kind of got Ja- [HistoryMaker] James Lowry involved. And so Lowry help promulgate it as a good mentor protege thing. So I went with it. And so--and the 29th of February it was incorporated as Louis Jones Enterprises. I was living in Oak Park, Illinois and so they had my home address for a while, and then I had a small office at 440 North Wells [Street]. And so that's how I started a company. And we had a five year buyout deal and all that. In about three years, I bought them out because we were, you know, just something we wanted to do. So we started out working on McCormick Place North to bring it back, because they had sort of mothballed the job because the legislature had not funded it. And then the O'Hare Development Program came about. And by the fall of that year, in 1984, when I opened the company, by the fall of that year I had ten employees and they were all working at O'Hare field [Chicago O'Hare International Airport, Chicago, Illinois]. And I had been spending quite a bit of time in the prior year as an employee of Schal and then later on as a consultant helping the team that was doing all the budgeting for the O'Hare Development Program. What is the United terminal [United Airlines Terminal 1] gonna cost. What's the inner outer taxi way relocation and widening gonna be, the second taxi way bridge. Did a lot of analysis and studies and stuff on that. And so Dick Unsulman [ph.] was the executive director of the O'Hare Development Program and he sent out a--like an ultimatum, "Either Lou Jones is full time working with me on the O'Hare program," because he was involved with McCormick Place somehow, "or he's working on McCormick Place, which is it." Well my business and my employees were all at O'Hare, so I moved to the O'Hare thing and let the McCormick Place thing go. And I became deputy director of construction management for the O'Hare Development Program. So all of the facilities stuff, they had a deputy director for facilities and a deputy director for infrastructure. So this guy, Dan Kaiser [ph.], was over all the civil stuff like runways and roads, and stuff like that. And I was over all the buildings, like the terminal buildings, the crash fire rescue stations, that kind of stuff. And within a couple years I had twenty-five or thirty employees out there and me spending full time there when I started to pick up other work was getting to be a strain, so I brought in Joe Doddy [ph.] who's still working out there for somebody else, who's a classmate of mine, to be the deputy director for facilities.$What was the next big project that your, your firm [Louis Jones Enterprises, Inc., Chicago, Illinois] had? You had Provident [Provident Hospital of Cook County, Chicago, Illinois], you had O'Hare [Chicago O'Hare International Airport, Chicago, Illinois]?$$The Harold Washington Library [Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago, Illinois] came up and McCormick Place South [McCormick Place South Building, Chicago, Illinois] in the '90s [1990s]. Both were, were done--they had international design competition design build--they wanted design build. And we teamed with a group that call themselves the SEBUS Group, it was Schal [Schal Associates, Inc., Chicago, Illinois], Epstein [A. Epstein and Sons International, Inc., Chicago, Illinois], U.S. Equities [U.S. Equities Realty LLC; CBRE Group, Inc.] and I forget what the B in there was [Hammond, Beeby and Babka, Inc.; Hammond, Beeby, Rupert, Ainge, Inc., Chicago, Illinois]. But we did something like 10, 15 percent of the deal. We had the union crew that--a construction manager operates sort a like general contractor, they have what they call temporary facilities and controls or general conditions. We had a crew of about fifteen laborers, carpenters and one operator, and Barb [Jones' wife, Barbara M. Jones] went through a lot of people because we insisted on hiring African Americans, and we had some issues with that, and we had to really go to--we actually had to do some stuff. 'Cause I wrote a very ugly letter that everybody asked me to burn or shred because if it got to the Sun-Times [Chicago Sun-Times] or something--'cause I was threatening them that they were mani- manipulating me into laying off black folks and hiring Mexicans and white people unfairly. Because I would put a black carpenter out there and--or a black laborer and, and the, the other firms that were involved wou- would complain that they were, they were too slow, they didn't know what they was doing or something. And I said, you know, you're trying to tell me that a journeyman carpenter doesn't know what he's doing, you know, give me a break, you know. So finally--when you start a construction job there's ebbs and flows. At the beginning there is some site work. They're, they're doing the foundations and stuff and you need some laborers around there to do cleanup. You might have a little bit of safety with a carpenter or whatnot, and maybe those guys will get three weeks work or a couple months work, then they get laid off because there's a lull. And then when that thing starts to come out of the ground and it's a project that's big as Harold Washington Library, then you need a full time cleanup crew and you need a couple of people there to do backup safety where the subcontractors don't do the barriers where people might fall, you know. And if you're the general or you're the construction manager you better see that they're done. And even if it's somebody else's duty and then you just back charge them for it. So we had those kind of people. And so that came to nearly fifteen people, and I think we had one white person and one Hispanic, everybody else was black. And there was always some issue. So finally I wrote a letter and I said, "Look, you know, you've manipulated me into laying off my whole crew and then you call and said you wanted these people back and you recommended its people that wasn't black." "We don't want--we don't want that written down, where are the rest of those letters." And so then the edict came down, leave Lou [HistoryMaker Louis Jones] alone, let him hire the people that, you know, he sees fit, as long as they're doing the job.