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Pilsen, Little Village, Back of the Yards

Chicago Building Commissioner Judith Frydland Retiring

Recently, the Department of Buildings drew criticism for approving permits for the smokestack implosion that covered Little Village homes in dust.

Buildings Commissioner Judy Frydland (center) with Peter Palandijian, CEO of Intercontinental; Ald. Walter Burnett Jr.; Tom Weeks, former executive general manager of Lendlease; and John Buck, CEO of the John Buck Company, in 2018.
Mauricio Peña/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — The head of the city’s Department of Buildings is retiring, the city announced late Tuesday.

Building Commissioner Judith Frydland led the department since 2015 and has worked for the city for 31 years in various posts including at the city’s Law Department.

Credit: City of Chicago
Judith Frydland

As chief of the Department of Buildings, she oversaw 295 employees responsible for the permitting, inspection and enforcement of the city’s building code.

Frydland told the Sun-Times she is retiring to spend more time with her family, including her 91-year-old mother, a Holocaust survivor.

“…I need to spend some time with my family. I love the city. I love my job. But my family has to come first at this time,” Frydland said.

Since she was appointed to the post by then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Frydland implemented reforms to streamline the permit process for building projects. The city adopted a full rewrite of the city’s Building Code in 2019 — the first in 70 years, according to the city.

Recently, the Department of Buildings drew criticism for approving permits and overseeing the smokestack implosion that covered Little Village homes in dust amid a respiratory pandemic.

In a statement, Mayor Lori Lightfoot thanked Frydland for her three decades of service to Chicago.

“In her role as head of the Department of Buildings alone, she leaves behind a legacy of strengthening City operations through modernizing our building codes, working with communities to maintain housing stock, and streamlining our permitting process,” Lightfoot said. “I join her many friends and colleagues in congratulating Commissioner Frydland on her well-earned retirement, and give her my best wishes as she and her family embark on this new chapter of their lives.”

Frydland could not immediately be reached Wednesday morning.

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