The recent media coverage surrounding the announced Barack Obama Presidential Library, drawing bids from contenders New York, Honolulu, and Chicago, once again initiates the desire for speculations and projections.
As the fourteenth of its kind, this civic institution will not only function to house a collection of artifacts and documents relating to the president’s life but will also provide an educational infrastructure and framework for outreach and community programs.
Although the Presidential Library, as a museum-library hybrid, is perceived as a great contribution to the public it serves, criticism has been raised regarding its true civic function. Both the Chicago architectural community and public at large recall similar controversies that still remain unresolved for the Harold Washington Library. Source Chicago Architectural Club.
DESIGN TEAM: Zhu Wenyi, Fu Junsheng, and Liang Yiang
“The Barack Obama Presidential Library is designed to reflect President Obama’s charisma, while maintaining and showcasing the identity of the urban grid and river system.
The designers fully utilized the roof of the Library as a “fifth elevation,” which would be visible from the surrounding skyscrapers.
The Library would have exhibitions divided into six sections including: early life and career, legislative career, presidential campaigns, presidency, public image, family and personal life.
Visitors would experience each section by walking along, and between six parallel tracks allowing them to examine different aspects of the president’s life at one time.”
DESIGN TEAM: Aras Burak Sen
“The primary function of the Barack Obama Presidential Library would be to serve as public forum and archive of his years in office, rather than as a memorial. The building would be divided into eight levels of differing heights, with openings offering various views of Chicago.
Each level archives a single year of Obama’s presidency. The amphitheater at the base of the building is designed without any glass, or walls, and would provide Chicagoans with a public forum for free speech.
The ground floor of the Library is shaped like a peace sign to represent the hope felt during Obama’s first year in office, and serve as a bridge connecting the three riverbanks.
The peace sign shape changes on each level representing the distortion of hopes over time.”
Text and Images via Chicago Architectural Club