Obama’s Building His Presidential Library On Chicago’s South Side

Obama’s Building His Presidential Library On Chicago’s South Side
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The Secret Service might be focused on how to design a better fence at the White House, but US President Obama’s foundation team is focused on the design of a different building: His presidential library.

In an early morning announcement today, the Barack Obama Foundation — which is made up of close supporters and friends — announced that it had finally chosen a location for his presidential library. The tradition of building a library for each outgoing president began in the 1930s — it’s intended to create an archive and a learning center for the president’s historical legacy.

For some presidents, choosing a spot hasn’t been difficult; Bush’s library wouldn’t make sense anywhere but Dallas, for example. But Obama’s legacy exists in multiple cities — Honolulu, Chicago, even New York, where the president attended grad school. All three cities have been competing to make the foundation the most attractive proposal for years now.

A group of students’ conceptual proposal for the library from earlier this year.

But this morning, the POTUS and FLOTUS made a video announcement saying they’d chosen a spot on Chicago’s South Side where “not only will we be able to encourage and affect change locally, but what we can also do is to attract the world to Chicago.” The library will sit at a side inside one of two local parks — Washington Park or Jackson Park — an issue which hasn’t raised as many hackles as George Lucas’ gargantuan Museum of Narrative Art, sited in a park on the shore of Lake Michigan. The Foundation team intends to make the library a community hub, open to all, by partnering with local organisations, schools, and universities.

One thing that neither the president or the foundation mentioned? The architect. Speculation about who would design the library has been almost more intense than where it would be located. Architectural Record says it will be David Adjaye, who is reportedly the president’s “favourite architect”. But plenty of other firms want to be considered too. Here’s one proposal from architecture firm HOK:

And another from the University of Illinois, which was also competing for the library’s location within Chicago:

The architect Michael Sorkin published his own proposal all the way back in January 2014:

Meanwhile, the Chicago Architectural Club hosted its own competition, drawing in dozens of entries, like this one from Zhu Wenyi, Fu Junsheng, and Liang Yiang:

Or this Death Star-esque idea from Aras Burak Sen:

Sadly, anyone who was hoping to learn the name of the architect who will get the job was disappointed today. We’ll have to keep on guessing — meanwhile, the Obama Foundation has some fundraising to do.