Former US President Barack Obama has confirmed that the Obama Presidential Center will break ground in 2021.
To be located within the 550-acre Jackson Park on the South Side of Chicago, USA, the Obama Presidential Center designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects (TWBTA) in partnership with Interactive Design Architects (IDEA) will feature a world-class museum, a forum building and public plaza for the local community, a library, a park and activity centre, as well as a play area for children among others.
While 19.3 acres have been allocated for the project, the Presidential Center’s architectural footprint will only be about two acres with most of the area set aside as open park space for the community. The generous public spaces will be open to the local community to gather for celebrations, enjoy the new gardens and playground, and use the scenic paths for early morning jogs or afternoon strolls.
According to Obama.org, the Obama Presidential Center represents a historic opportunity to build a world-class museum and public gathering space that celebrates the nation’s first African American President and First Lady.
“...the Obama Presidential Center will feature a world-class museum that chronicles their leadership while calling hundreds of thousands of visitors to service. It will be a place to reflect and grow, connect and create; to tap into your own sense of purpose and discover the change you want to make in the world. It will be a place to honor history while inspiring young people to write chapters of their own,” the website stated.
The project will also create jobs, drive economic opportunity, and unlock the potential of the South Side by connecting it with the rest of the city through new opportunities.
The Presidential Center’s design will be sensitive to the local landscape and environment. While three of the four planned buildings are built into the landscape of Jackson Park, the museum will stand as a prominent landmark for the South Side, marking the Center as a historic civic destination. The museum building’s form is inspired by the idea of four hands coming together, representing a movement’s collective ascension upwards from the grassroots.
A Sky Room on the top of the museum will offer extraordinary panoramic views of Lake Michigan to the East, the skyscrapers of downtown Chicago to the North, and the South Side of Chicago to the West and South.
The forum building is designed as a hub for the local community, and will house numerous collaborative and creative spaces, including an auditorium, a broadcast and recording studio, flexible learning and meeting spaces, and a restaurant.
The public plaza just outside the forum and museum buildings will serve as a place for the Obama Foundation and the community to host gatherings, outdoor performances, markets and fairs.
The library – a new branch of the Chicago Public Library – will feature interactive digital media spaces and amenities for children, informational and vocational resources for adults, and a reading room for all to enjoy. A garden on the roof – similar to the one planted at the White House by Mrs Obama – will allow the community to learn about growing fruits and vegetables.
The park surrounding the Center will feature play areas and walking paths, all connected by a long pedestrian promenade. An activity centre will additionally offer a place for recreation as well as to host community programs and events.
The historic Women’s Garden at Jackson Park will also be restored with new plantings, pathways and seating.
A giant playground for children will celebrate the natural environment of Jackson Park, and offer four seasons of play with plenty of seating and shade for parents and adults. The Great Lawn with its gentle slope offers activity opportunities throughout the year from picnics in the summer to sledding in winter as well as movies in the park.
Images: The Obama Foundation