Obama Unveils The $500 Million Obama Presidential Center In Chicago

Signing $60 million for a book contract, and rolling out on the speech circuit at $400k a pop is enough to inspire former US presidents with creative ways how to be remembered by future generations. Take former President Obama for example, who together with Michelle, are in their hometown Chicago this week and offered the city its first peek of the future Obama Presidential Center, which will be built on a 200,000-square-foot  campus in Jackson Park on Chicago's South Side

A memorial that would make pharaohs jealous, the center will sit near a lagoon that runs into Lake Michigan in the Jackson Park neighborhood and will feature three buildings: a museum, a library, and “forum,” which will house an auditorium, restaurant, and public garden.

It will also have a sledding hill.

The Obama Foundation said that the center, located near Chicago's historically African-American Woodlawn neighborhood, will revitalize the Jackson Park neighborhood by attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors and creating new jobs on the South Side.

The museum (rendered above) will be the largest structure on the 200,000-to-225,000-square-foot campus. The forum and the library will be one-story buildings with landscaped roofs that border on the public plaza below. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, there will also be a community garden and a kids’ play space. The campus will also include hills for sledding, at the former First Lady’s request.

The Obama Foundation also said it was exploring ways to incorporate a Chicago Public Library branch on the site.

“I am thrilled to join President Obama and Mrs. Obama as we outline the vision for both the Obama Presidential Center and Jackson Park as a whole,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “This vision will enhance the historic landscape of Jackson Park as originally envisioned by Frederick Olmsted, and we all look forward to engaging with residents as we begin the community process to turn this vision into reality in a way that maximizes economic development and opportunity in Woodlawn, South Shore and Washington Park.”

“More than a building or museum, the Obama Presidential Center will be a living, working center for engagement — an ongoing project for the community and world to shape what it means to be an active citizen in the 21st century,” the Obama Foundation described the project in a statement.

“The Center will include a state of the art museum, classrooms, labs, and outdoor spaces, and it will conduct programs that will give visitors not just memories, but real tools to create change in their own communities. It will be based on the South Side of Chicago but, via partnerships, programs, and digital initiatives, have projects all over the city, the country, and the world," the release added.

“The Obamas want to create a safe, warm, inviting place that brings people in, teaches them something new, and inspires them to create change in their own communities. The Center will be a place for doing, not just looking or listening, “said Marty Nesbitt, Chair of the Obama Foundation.  “The place we are developing will be integrally a part of Jackson Park. Our team’s approach is to weave the project into the park and use the Center to unlock the full potential of the park and engage the community in the Foundation’s work.”

According to NY Mag, The Obamas selected the architects for the Obama Presidential Center, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, last summer; they’re behind the now-gone American Folk Art Museum in New York City. The entire campus is expected to be completed by 2021, but President Obama said Wednesday that programming will begin sooner, including a $2 million donation to a youth summer-jobs program to combat violence in Chicago. The former president even offered a preview of his possible future teaching staff.

Obama is expected to use the center as a platform to work on issues such as criminal justice reform and education for underprivileged children. The entire project is expected to cost $500 million.

More details below (link)