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27 Mar 2024

Obama Presidential Center Nears Full Height In Jackson Park

Obama Presidential Center Nears Full Height In Jackson Park

Construction is nearing full height for the Obama Presidential Center at 6000 S Stony Island Avenue in Jackson Park. The center, spearheaded by the Obama Foundation, will replace a portion of the park that formerly housed a football field, situated southwest of the Museum of Science and Industry. The architectural design is a collaborative effort between Interactive Design Architects and Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, while the landscape architecture is being handled by a team consisting of Living Habitats, Site Design Group, and Michael van Valkenburg Associates. 

The stone-clad main structure, set to reach a height of 235 feet, features a frustum shape that represents four hands coming together. It will house the first fully digital presidential library, with its collection sourced from an off-site archive. Interactive exhibits detailing President Obama’s tenure will be on display, along with artifacts from his pre- and post-presidential years. A quotation from the former president, rendered in abstract metallic typography, will be showcased in the upper section of the museum. Serving not only as a museum, the venue will also host events such as lectures and panel debates.

The main building will be complemented by two shorter structures, including the Forum Building. This facility will house meeting areas, workshop platforms, and operational space for local organizations. It will also offer amenities such as a restaurant, lecture auditorium, bookstore, gift shop, cafe, and a terrace area. Additionally, the complex will feature a new branch of the Chicago Public Library, which will provide occupational resources and interactive sections for younger visitors, along with an elevated garden.

The landscaped campus surrounding the buildings will feature plazas, green spaces, rooftop gardens, a playground, sledding hills, and a wetland for stormwater treatment that will be accessible for nature walks. The complex will be closely intertwined with Jackson Park through recreational areas, walkways, a sledding hill, and a pedestrian-friendly boulevard.

The development plans involve lowering S Cornell Drive on the eastern side of the campus and renovating the women’s garden. The center will include a dedicated parking garage with 425 spaces and will be accessible via multiple public transportation options. Visitors can reach the center using bus routes 2, 6, 10, 15, 28, 55, 59, and 171, as well as the nearby University of Chicago/59th Street Metra station.

The Obama Presidential Center is expected to draw more than 750,000 visitors annually. The $830 million construction, overseen by Lakeside Alliance, a consortium of five construction companies (Turner Construction Company, Safeway Construction Company, Brown & Momen, Inc., UJAMAA Construction Inc., and Powers & Sons Construction Company), is anticipated to be finished by 2026.

Find out more: Chicago YIMBY

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