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Obama Unveils Conceptual Design of his Presidential Center in Chicago by TWBTA

Barack and Michelle Obama have unveiled the design of the Obama Presidential Center by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, which is to be located in Jackson Park, by Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois. The center will feature three buildings in a site, specifically, selected by the Obamas to provide an animated setting similar to Millennium Park, and unlike the majority of the former presidential centers, the revealed design, actually, shows something that resembles a recreational park, not just a typical library. The former US president is hopeful that new center would be a transformational project for the city’s southern side. “It’s not just a building. It’s not just a park. Hopefully, it’s a hub where all of us can see a brighter future for the South Side,” said Obama.

Courtesy of Obama Foundation

The museum building will be the project’s tallest structure, rising 180ft-high and clad in light colored stone. Its non-typical form and height promote it as the focal point of the presidential center complex. It will house exhibition spaces, educational rooms, as well as meeting rooms. South of the museum building, there will be the forum building which is to contain an auditorium, restaurant, and public garden. There will also be the Library building which includes a branch of the Chicago Public Library. The library will house Obama’s paper records, and it will be the first complete digital library of presidential unclassified records.

Courtesy of Obama Foundation

The design, also, shows pathways which lead from the park to the landscaped roofs of the one-storey forum and library buildings. From these roofs, the visitors will get a view of Lake Michigan, Jackson Park lagoon, and the center’s outdoor plaza. The park which is to surround the buildings will offer recreational activities for children and adults alike and revitalize the surrounding area. After all, the former president has stated that he did not want to build the typical presidential library, “a monument to the past, a little bit of ego-tripping,” but a building that “looks forward, not backward, and would provide a place to train future leaders to make a change in their communities, countries and the world.”

However, the project has issued controversy because of the plans to close Cornell Drive between 60th and 67th street, to add new parkland and safety buffer for children. These routes are in use, daily, by thousands of commuters, and shutting them could cause traffic problems. Obama has reported that the officials are already working on traffic studies for the area to solve or minimize the problems that may arise. The center is planned to open in 2021, and no expected cost for the project has been revealed up till now. The New York-based project designers Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects were selected between a number of renowned international architecture practices like SHoP Architects, Snøhetta, David Adjaye, and Renzo Piano.

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