“The Center will create jobs and economic opportunity, especially for South Side residents—because we believe the team that’s building the Obama Presidential Center should look like the community it calls home. And through the museum, the Center will be a place to honor history while inspiring young people to write chapters of their own — giving them the tools, resources, and connections they need to create change in their communities” – Obama

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Obama presenting the site plan of the Presidential centre
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Sketch of the Centre

After a four-year-long federal review process, the Obama Foundation Centre announced that Obama Presidential Centre will finally break ground in the second half of 2021. Located in Chicago South Side, the Obama Presidential Center will bring new life in and around the historic Jackson Park. It will serve beneficial in delivering amenities, economic and social resources to the community the Obama’s called home.  

While past presidential complexes have emphasized more on glorifying and enriching past achievements, Obama Presidential Center extends its scope as a place that aims at story-making. The center is designed by New York-based Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, they have planned the campus such that it integrates landscape with a museum tower, library with a plaza, and a forum building.   

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Site plan of the center

The presidential museum will celebrate the context of diverse groups working towards the common good. It will be a place to honor the place from where Obama originated and will act as an inspiration.   The library serves as one of the first public libraries of South Chicago. The center integrates activity space and an athletic center for recreation. Stunning views of the center show how iconic and balanced the design will be.  

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View of the centre in ice
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Northern façade

“With a library and a foundation on the South Side of Chicago, not only will we be able to encourage and effect change locally, but what we can also do is to attract the world to Chicago,” said President Obama in a video message announcing the decision. First Lady Michelle Obama, who grew up on the South Side, said, “I’m thrilled to be able to put this resource in the heart of the neighborhood that means the world to me.”

The building’s texture is a mixture of two stones which gives a simpler and sober look to the center. The glazed section also opens the character of the building making it interactive and approachable. With most of the landscape of Jackson Park, the design includes forest themes celebrating the park’s history and comprises lagoon’s for recreation. Adding to the natural vegetation the plan is set to enhance the wetland areas by walkways and treat stormwater. Various trees will also contribute to the existing rich landscape. 

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Public library
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Public plaza

The architecture of the place is set to inspire and attract visitors from nukes and corners of the country and all over the world. Obama Presidential Centre will not only bring fresh businesses but also will engage in local dialogue with the residents and communities about their basic needs and amenities. The center will create thousands of jobs and thus diversity in the workforce. The completed Obama Presidential Centre will act as a hub to inspire, connect and empower generations of leaders to come.

The Foundation estimates nearly 500$m for the construction of the center and development of the overall park. The same costs are predicted to be covered in the future by an economic impact study which states that the site will have an economic impact of $1.3m and bring around 700,000 visitors to the Chicago South Side each year. 

“The past 12 months have been among the most challenging in our history. I know they’ve hit Chicago hard, particularly for residents on the South and West sides who have shouldered devastating health consequences from COVID-19, faced higher unemployment rates, and more. But hopefully, 2021 offers a turning point for our nation and our city. And we also hope that the ground-breaking of the Obama Presidential Center can be an important part of that change” – Obama  

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Main view
Author

Vaishnavi is an Architect and an aspiring Psychologist. She believes that in the attempt of understanding life and ourselves we have been constantly creating forms of work and art. Through this perspective she discovers architecture in almost everything and pens it down.

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