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Obama Library Designs Unveiled

The first conceptual designs for the Obama Presidential Center are out. The design features a large, low-rise structure largely built into the ground, with a narrow high-rise building that is similar in design to the University of Chicago's Logan Center, which was designed by the same architects: Billie Tsien, Dina Griffin and Tod Williams.

“The Obamas want to create a safe, warm, inviting place that brings people in, teaches them something new, and inspires them to create change in their own communities,” said Marty Nesbitt, chair of the Obama Foundation, in a statement. “The Center will be a place for doing, not just looking or listening.”

The designs released Wednesday reveal three buildings – a museum, forum, and library – will form the Presidential Center in Jackson Park. The museum, the tallest of the three buildings, will hold exhibition space, public spaces, offices, and education and meeting rooms, according to a press release from the Obama Foundation. The forum and library buildings will be community resources for study and foundation programming. Both buildings will be single story structures with planted roof terraces, according to the foundation.

“The Center is designed as a campus to integrate into historic Jackson Park and to encourage local residents and visitors alike to explore the community and bring people together for events, recreation, and programming,” said David Simas, chief executive officer at the Obama Foundation, in a press release.

  • (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)

    (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)

  • (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)

    (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)

  • Conceptual site context plan. (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)

    Conceptual site context plan. (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)

  • Conceptual site plan. (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)

    Conceptual site plan. (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)

The presidential center will range in size from 200,000 to 250,000 gross square feet, "but the concept site plan imagines a re-shaping of the Park that will result in a total net increase in green space for Jackson Park,” says a foundation press release.

“The design approach for the Center is guided by the goal of creating a true community asset that seeks to inspire and empower the public to take on the greatest challenges of our time,” said Williams, Tsien and Griffin in a statement.

“The Obamas were clear that they wanted the Center to seamlessly integrate into the Park and the community, and include diverse public spaces. Our hope is that this design for the Center interspersed with Jackson Park honors the legacy of Olmsted and Vaux and unlocks potential and opportunity for Jackson Park, the South Side, and the City of Chicago.”

Williams and Tsien are set to take part in an event at the South Shore Cultural Center Wednesday afternoon with former President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama as they discuss the first conceptual designs.

The Obamas are also expected to host a round table discussion with community leaders and neighborhood residents who have advocated for a community benefits agreement with the Obama Foundation. 

Related stories:

Groups Push For Community Benefits Agreement with Obama Library

April 20: A coalition of community organizers are trying to get the Obama Foundation, the city, and the University of Chicago to commit to creating jobs and not displacing area residents.

3 Chicago Firms Selected for Obama Library Project Management Team

April 11: The Obama Foundation announced Tuesday three Chicago-based firms will lead the project management team for the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park.

Obama Library to be ‘Center for Citizenship’

Jan. 20: Hours before the inauguration of Donald Trump, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama released a video outlining their plans for the future Obama Presidential Center.

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