After the completion of a careful federal regulatory review process, we’re thrilled to announce that we plan to break ground on the Obama Presidential Center in 2021. The Obama Presidential Center will be a place to honor the stories of those who’ve brought us to where we are today—and bring people together to chart an even brighter future.
On Chicago’s South Side, the Center will offer old friends and new visitors alike the chance to explore a world-class museum and gather together for celebrations of all kinds. The campus will add to the vitality of Jackson Park, bringing new gardens; a larger playground; and scenic paths for an early morning jog, bike ride, or an afternoon stroll.
The Obama Presidential Center represents a historic opportunity to build a world-class museum and public gathering space that celebrates our nation’s first African American President and First Lady, steps away from where he began his career, where she was raised, and where—together—they made their home. A dynamic public plaza is at the heart of the Obama Presidential Center, welcoming visitors to the campus and the Park.
A public plaza at the entry of the campus will serve as a gathering place for live performances and community festivals. The Museum building anchors the northern end of the plaza, the Forum building wraps its east side, and a new branch of the Chicago Public Library frames its southern end. A landscaped courtyard brings natural light and greenery to the Center’s public spaces, including a café on the Garden Level of the Museum building.
The Garden Level invites visitors to share their own stories and to connect with other people’s submissions through a series of interactive programs. Here, visitors will be encouraged to commit to engaging within their own communities, finding ways they can make a difference after leaving the Obama Presidential Center and returning home. The Garden Level also features a retail shop and café that will serve locally roasted coffees, honey from onsite beehives, and fresh food made with produce from the Center’s Fruit and Vegetable Garden.
A new branch of the Chicago Public Library will feature an interactive digital media space and a garden on its roof. Similar to the garden that Mrs. Obama planted at the White House, it will be a place where young people and community members can get their hands dirty and learn about growing fruits and vegetables—and there will even be a few bee hives for honey. A north-facing view of the public plaza and Museum building, as viewed from the roof of the Chicago Public Library building.
The Museum building anchors the northern end of the plaza, the Forum building wraps its east side, and the newest branch of the Chicago Public Library frames its southern end. Landscaped pathways transition visitors from the Park landscape to the planted roofs of the Library and Forum buildings which offer views of the plaza below and the Lagoon beyond. The Museum building will be a new landmark for the South Side, welcoming visitors to Jackson Park and marking the Center as an historic civic destination.
The building’s height will establish visitor’s arrival to the Center and, once inside, will offer unparalleled views of the surrounding neighborhood. The Museum building’s design embodies the idea of ascension—of a movement upward from the grassroots. Its form is inspired by the idea of four hands coming together; a recognition that many hands shape a place. Inside, exhibits will explore the fullness of the American story—from the promise of our founding documents to the movements that challenged us to live up to them.
The Museum exhibits will tell the story of the volunteers who powered the campaign toward history, and will examine the eight years of progress, setback, and hope that followed. A north-facing view from the promenade toward the Museum building, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the lagoon. The park will offer play areas and walking paths, all connected by a long pedestrian promenade that runs alongside Jackson Park’s beautiful and historic lagoons.
By converting Cornell Drive back to parkland, the Promenade restores a scenic experience that is more consistent with Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision for Jackson Park. The path features a designated bike lane and connects the Obama Presidential Center to the Museum of Science Industry with safe and direct access to the lagoon.
The landscape of Jackson Park’s historic Women’s Garden will be restored with plantings, pathways, and seating. The Women’s Garden preserves the signature circular form and location of the historic sunken lawn with a new enlarged perennial garden, which captures and treats rainwater, encircling the garden. It will also become more accessible by converting the roads surrounding the Garden back to parkland.
A dynamic two-acre play area will be a memorable place for children of all ages. The Children’s Play Area will feature a giant playground with innovative recreation equipment for children of all ages. The design of the play area celebrates the natural environment of Jackson Park, with lagoon and woodland-themed features to stir imaginations and encourage exploration. It will offer four seasons of play with plenty of seating and shade for parents and adults.
At dusk, the Great Lawn becomes an open-air theater, with a gentle sloping view to the south. The Great Lawn is a place for sledding in the winter, picnics in the summer, and to gather for movies in the park. The gentle slope of the site offers opportunities for activities year-round, and it will be the perfect place to get a view of Jackson Park’s beautiful lagoons.
On snowy days, the Great Lawn becomes a sledding hill with a backdrop of the Museum building to the north. The Great Lawn is a place for sledding in the winter, picnics in the summer, and to gather for movies in the park. The gentle slope of the site offers opportunities for activities year-round, and it will be the perfect place to get a view of Jackson Park’s beautiful lagoons. Source by The Obama Foundation and images Courtesy of TWBTA.