Barack Obama Presidential Center
Logo of the Obama Foundation, the non-profit organization that is overseeing the construction of the Barack Obama Presidential Center
|Location||Jackson Park, Chicago, Illinois|
|Named for||Barack Obama|
|Architect||Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, and Interactive Design Architects|
|Cost||$500 million (Estimated)|
|Management||David Simas, CEO|
44th President of the United States
The Barack Obama Presidential Center is the planned presidential library of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States. The center will be hosted by the University of Chicago, and will be located in Jackson Park on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. The center will not be part of the presidential library network operated by National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The nonprofit Barack Obama Foundation was established to oversee the creation of the Center and the construction of its campus.
Board and staff
The Barack Obama Foundation board includes: Chairman Marty Nesbitt, a close friend from Chicago; J. Kevin Poorman, president and CEO of PSP Capital Partners; David Plouffe; Obama's half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng; venture capital financier, John Doerr; Studio Museum in Harlem Director and Chief Curator, Thelma Golden; fundraiser and former White House staffer, Juliana Smoot; investment managers John Rogers, and Michael Sacks, and former Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick. Barack Obama has a home in Hyde Park.[a] The foundation was formally established in January 2014.
Planning and design
In May 2015, the Barack Obama Foundation and Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that the Foundation and the Barack Obama Presidential Center would be located in Chicago's South Side, and would be built in partnership with the University of Chicago. The selection of Chicago's South Side has broad local support for reasons of civic pride as well as of the economic development it would bring in the form of tourism and jobs, although the nonprofit group Friends of the Parks opposes the loss of parkland to build the library and has threatened a lawsuit to block development.
A design advisory committee assisted in the selection of the architects. Members of the committee included sculptor Don Gummer (the husband of actress Meryl Streep); Ed Schlossberg of ESI Design (husband of Caroline Kennedy, the then U.S. ambassador to Japan); Fred Eychaner, a Chicago radio station owner and Democratic financier; and Architectural Digest magazine editor Margaret Russell. Seven architectural firms were announced as finalists in December 2015 from an initial list of 140 applicants: John Ronan Architects, Adjaye Associates, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, SHoP Architects, Snøhetta, and Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects.
New York-based Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and Chicago-based Interactive Design Architects, were chosen in June 2016 to jointly lead the design and engineering of the center. For the exhibition design, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, which worked on the National Museum of African American History, will lead a team including Civic Projects, Normal, and several local artists. The landscape architect is Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, with Site Design Group, and Living Habitats.
Two parks near the University of Chicago's South Side campus, Jackson Park and Washington Park, were considered. On July 29, 2016, the Foundation announced the selection of the Jackson Park site, across Stony Island Avenue from Hyde Park Academy High School and Woodlawn. The park, designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, already houses the Museum of Science and Industry.
Preliminary plans were unveiled in May 2017, involving three buildings in geometric shapes covered in light-colored stone, roughly 200,000 to 225,000 square feet (18,600 to 20,900 m2) (comparable to the size of the George W. Bush Presidential Center). The museum building (which will also include educational and meeting space) will be the tallest at 180 ft (55 m). The other buildings, a library building and a forum building, will be a single story. The latter building will feature an auditorium, restaurant and public garden. The library will be "the first completely digital presidential library, with no paper records stored on site"—papers will be stored at a separate National Archives and Records Administration facility.
The unveiled plan incorporates the Jackson Park end of Midway Plaisance from the north (which would be readapted as a circular greenspace surrounding a water basin), and the entirety of the park's hockey field and adjoining parkland to the south, where the main buildings and new park landscaping are to be sited. As part of a wider plan to reclaim parkland and improve park safety, the project also necessitates the closure of South Cornell Drive between 60th and 67th Streets, a 6-lane thoroughfare that runs along the western park lagoon and the park's golf course from Midway Plaisance to South Shore.
Construction and fundraising
Construction of the center is expected to be completed in 2020 or 2021. The architects said in February 2017 that construction of the center's library and museum would likely approach $300 million, and that the center would likely need an endowment of $1.5 billion. Until the site is ready, papers and artifacts from the Obama administration are being stored and processed inside a facility in Hoffman Estates, northwest of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Obama did not do major fundraising for the center while still in office. In 2017, Obama reportedly was set to engage in a major fundraising effort for the center.
- “I spent almost 30 years in Chicago. It’s where Michelle, where she grew up, where our daughters were born,” he said. “Hawaii is home to me,” the president said, but Chicago was his real home.
- Eilperin, Juliet (December 19, 2016). "White House political director David Simas joins Obama Foundation as CEO". Washington Post. Retrieved December 25, 2016.
- "The Obama Presidential Center". barackobamafoundation.org.
- Caputo, Blair Kamin, Katherine Skiba, Angela. "Obama Presidential Center breaks from National Archives model". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2017-05-25.
- David Jackson (January 31, 2014). "Obama library foundation is formed". USA Today.
- "About the Foundation". Barack Obama Foundation.
- Gima, Craig (March 3, 2016). "Obama: 'Hawaii is home,' but he probably won't live here". Star Advertiser. Honolulu. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
- "Obamas likely to stay in DC for a few years". Reuters interview (rough cut with no reporter narration). March 3, 2016. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
- Supporters Establish the Obama Foundation to Oversee Planning for Future Presidential Library, Barack Obama Foundation (January 31, 2014).
- Pashman, Katherine Skiba, Manya Brachear (May 31, 2017). "Louise Bernard named museum director for future Obama Presidential Center". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
- "Michelle Obama to pick Obama library location: report=Obama Foundation Issues RFP to Four Potential Hosts of Future Presidential Library". WGN-TV.
- "Obama Foundation Issues RFP to Four Potential Hosts of Future Presidential Library". Barack Obama Foundation.
- Julie Bosman & Mitch Smith, Chicago Wins Bid to Host Obama Library, New York Times, May 12, 2015.
- Blair, Kamin (January 13, 2016). "Husbands of Streep and Kennedy advising on Obama Center architect". Chicago Tribune.
- Lynn Sweet, Seven firms make cut to design Obama Center in Chicago, Chicago Sun Times 12/21/2015
- "Obamas choose New York architects to design Chicago library and museum". Chicago Tribune. 30 June 2016.
- "The Obama Foundation Announces Architect Selection for Future Presidential Center". The Obama Foundation. 2016-06-30. Retrieved 2016-07-02.
- Obama Foundation exhibition designers Chicago Tribune
- Tan, Yao Xen (February 6, 2017). "Obama Foundation Chooses Landscape Architects for Presidential Library". www.chicagomaroon.com.
- Katherine Skiba, Obama Foundation makes it official: Presidential library will go up in Jackson Park, Chicago Tribune, June 29, 2016.
- Angela Caputo, Katherine Skiba, Blair Kamin (May 4, 2017). "Obamas unveil design of presidential center in Chicago". Chicago Tribune.
- Obama’s Library Architects Say Project May Need $1.5 Billion: Report, NBC Chicago (February 20, 2017).
- Skiba, Katherine (October 21, 2016). "Military Soon to Start Moving Obama's Papers to Hoffman Estates". Chicago Tribune. Washington DC. Retrieved March 3, 2017.