The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce bestowed the prestigious Daniel H. Burnham Award for Distinguished Leadership upon Bob Clark, the esteemed founder and executive chair of Clayco.

The Award for Distinguished Leadership honors an outstanding advocate for Chicago’s business community; someone who personifies the famous words of Chicago architect Daniel Hudson Burnham in 1909:

Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big.

Daniel Burnham

The 32nd Recipient: Bob Clark

Bob Clark’s impact on Chicago in the realms of business and civic life has been nothing short of extraordinary. Following in the footsteps of previous Burnham Award winners, Bob has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to Daniel Burnham’s vision of “making no little plans.” His leadership at Clayco has not only transformed the skyline but has also contributed significantly to the city’s growth.

Under Bob’s visionary leadership, Clayco has become an integral force in Chicago, leaving an indelible mark on iconic projects such as Willis Tower, One Fulton Market, and the expansion of O’Hare Airport. The company’s commitment to innovation is showcased through the development of cutting-edge data centers that position Illinois at the forefront of sustainable building practices.

Bob’s influence extends far beyond the business sector. His commitment to civic engagement is evident through initiatives such as scholarship programs, internships, and contributions to cancer and rare disease research. His extensive involvement with the University of Chicago Medical Center, Loyola University, and philanthropic organizations like Habitat for Humanity showcases a leader who understands that a city’s greatness is intrinsically tied to the well-being of its people.

Bob’s journey in construction began in fourth grade, captivated by the sight of a new building being erected across from his school. From these humble beginnings, Bob founded Clayco and now has overseen more than 600 projects in the United States, totaling over 275 million square feet of new construction and impacting countless lives.

Bob’s renaissance spirit is evident not only in his professional endeavors but also through his blog,, where he shares book reviews, architectural analyses, and stories of inspiration. This adventurous spirit has permeated Clayco, contributing to the company’s success in critical developments at O’Hare Airport and its pioneering work in sustainable data centers.

In the words of Daniel Burnham, “The business community always leads us forward,” and Bob Clark exemplifies this sentiment through a lifetime of transformative work. The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce congratulates Bob Clark on receiving the Daniel H. Burnham Award for Distinguished Leadership and expresses gratitude for his exceptional contributions to the city of Chicago.

The Reception

On November 14, 2023, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce hosted the 31st Annual Daniel H. Burnham Award Dinner presented by CIBC at the Hilton Downtown Chicago.

The Burnham Award Dinner honors Chicago’s leaders for their tremendous civic contributions to make Chicago a better place to both work and live. The annual event shines a light on the importance of civic involvement and is a reminder of how Chicago thrives with a fully engaged business community.

This year, more than 600 friends and supporters attended the evening, which included a program stacked with powerful guests and performances.

Featured speakers for the evening included Cook County Board of Commissioners President Toni Preckwinkle, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jack Lavin, and Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Chair of the Board Kevin Cassidy.

Other notable speakers from the business community included CIBC Bank USA Executive Managing Director and President of Commercial Banking Bob Frentzel, Siemens Head of External Affairs Judy Martinez-Faye, and Parkside Realty President and CEO Bob Wislow.

The emcee of the evening, ABC 7 Chicago Windy City Weekend Co-Host Val Warner, and a special musical performance by Opal Staples brought energy to the crowd.

The evening concluded with a heart-felt standing ovation following an acceptance speech from Bob Clark.

Pictures from the 32nd Annual Burnham Award Dinner can be found on the Chamber’s Flickr page.

City of Constant Motion

Another successful Burnham Award Dinner has been added to Chicago’s history books. Chicago is a city that is always striving, always innovating, and always growing. In this city, we believe you can always go further and build higher. And, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce is here to help us get there.


Watch the full-length program!

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