Obamas reveal more details and images for Presidential Center in Chicago


"One year ago, President and Mrs. Obama laid out their vision for the Obama Presidential Center: a living, working campus for citizenship that will inspire and empower visitors and residents to create change in their communities and the world", David Simas, CEO of the Obama Foundation, said in a statement. And while community members have anxious that the Obama Presidential Center will take up space in a way that inexorably alters the historic place's character, the new plans assert that the closure of nearby Cornell Drive will create a net gain in total park acreage.

Grass-roots activists, conservationists and academics on Chicago's South Side say the Obama Presidential Center, as now planned, does not do enough to benefit neighborhoods badly in need of economic revitalization.

The foundation announced Monday a planned above-ground garage has been dropped in favor of an underground one.

Charles Lipson, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, which sits just blocks away from the center's future location, said Mr. Obama is "indulging himself" by building "a monument along the lakefront, where it will have a lot less positive impact than it could have had elsewhere".

A new rendering of the Obama Presidential Center. That's the most vital aspect of the Obama Presidential Center - creating spaces for people to connect and collaborate, to take home a piece of what you've learned together.

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Its goals are to provide opportunities for civic engagement, enhance public safety in an around the park, and bring jobs and economic opportunity to Chicago's South Side.

Designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, with Interactive Design Architects as their partner, the Center is expected to open in 2021 with construction commencing later this year, pending city approval. It will be composed of eight floors and will feature public spaces including a top floor with views of the park and Lake Michigan. Museum and library buildings will be joined by a space called the "Forum", where, according to the former U.S. president, "anybody can come together for some local programming, or to gather for larger-scale events in an auditorium, maybe record something in a broadcast studio, or just have a bite to eat".

Plans for the development were submitted Wednesday.

"When I was younger, there was a time I dreamed of being an architect", said Obama. And that's why public input has been absolutely central to our process.