In 2008 the Charles Pankow Foundation launched the Charles Pankow Legacy Project with the expressed purpose of memorializing Mr. Pankow's achievements as a builder. To this end, the Foundation funded the recording and transcription of thirty-six interviews, thirty-five of which are included in this collection.
The interviews were conducted between April 2008 and September 2009 by Michael R. Adamson, who drew on them to write the book, A Better Way to Build: The History of the Pankow Companies, which Purdue University Press published in January 2013.
The individuals interviewed for the project were well-placed to discuss the building achievements of Charlie Pankow and his firm at the project level, and to analyze the business in strategic terms. They also were able to discuss Charlie Pankow's contribution to civil engineering and construction management education at Purdue University, and to discuss his devotion to family life and his passion for collecting art.
The interviewees represent a cross section of past and present employees of the Pankow firm, as well as architects, structural engineers, and subcontractors who worked with the firm as members of the building team, a president emeritus of Purdue University, two professors of civil engineering at Purdue, Charlie Pankow's personal physician, and two of the four children of Charles and Doris Pankow. Of the twenty-four past and present Pankow employees interviewed for this project, four worked in accounting or administration; two worked in development; three hired on as managers; and fifteen began their careers as carpenters, engineers, or superintendents in the field. Many of the latter became managers in the firm. All six of the executive managers who took responsibility for the company after the death of Charlie Pankow were interviewed, as were past presidents, executive and senior vice presidents, and regional managers. While most of the individuals interviewed for the project began their careers (or their relationships with Charlie Pankow) in the 1970s or later, five of the interviewees began working with Charlie Pankow when he was at Peter Kiewit Sons'.
At this late date, of course, it should be no surprise that many of the individuals associated with Charlie Pankow's professional life passed away before the project commenced, including Robert Carlson and Ralph Tice, two of the four founders of Charles Pankow, Inc., Harold Henderson, a project superintendent with both Kiewit and Pankow, and Robert McCarthy, the partner in the San Francisco firm of partner in Bohnert, Flowers, Roberts and McCarthy, who served as counsel to the firm. Others, such as Lloyd Loetterle, another of the four founders of Charles Pankow, Inc., could not be located. Still others, such as George Hammond, a managing partner with the design firm, Welton Becket & Associates, were unable to give interviews for reasons of health.
The project also produced a short film, Beyond the Building: The Charles J. Pankow Legacy, which can be viewed here: