As part of a community meeting in Michelle Obama’s home neighborhood of South Shore, the former president and first lady unveiled the first images and a conceptual model for the future Obama Presidential Center.
Described at the meeting as “more than a building or museum,” the center will be a “working center for citizenship.” Classrooms, labs and outdoor spaces will be used for programming focused on giving visitors “real tools to create change in their own communities.” A video of the design can be seen below.
Located in Jackson Park, on Chicago’s South Side, the center is being designed by New York-based Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners and Chicago studio Interactive Design Architects. As part of the Olmsted-designed park, the complex will include 200,000 square feet of space divided into three structures—a museum, forum, and library. The three structures will great a central public plaza, while landscaping will connect the green roofs of two of the buildings to the existing park. The tallest of the buildings will be the museum portion of the center, will hold exhibitions and public space, while the forum and library will be public resources to further the civic goals of the center.
“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,” the architects said at the meeting. “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.”
Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel also commented: “I am thrilled to join President Obama and Mrs. Obama as we outline the vision for both the Obama Presidential Center and Jackson Park as a whole,” he said. “This vision will enhance the historic landscape of Jackson Park as originally envisioned by Frederick Olmsted, and we all look forward to engaging with residents as we begin the community process to turn this vision into reality in a way that maximizes economic development and opportunity in Woodlawn, South Shore and Washington Park.”