Obama Foundation Announces Chicago Library Architects

The foundation said in September that 140 architectural firms from 25 countries and 60 cities applied to design the presidential center.

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The Barack Obama Foundation says the New York architects behind the University of Chicago's Logan Center for the Arts will partner with a Chicago firm in designing the Obama Presidential Center on Chicago's South Side.

Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, based in New York, and IDEA, a Chicago firm founded nearly 25 years ago, will "lead a multi-disciplinary and wide-ranging design and engineering effort that may ultimately include as many as 15-20 other firms engaged in various specialty areas all crucial to the Center’s design," the foundation announced Thursday.

“Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners stood out in their commitment to exploring, together with the Foundation, the best ways of creating an innovative center for action that inspires communities and individuals to take on our biggest challenges," Martin Nesbitt, chairman of the Obama Foundation, said in a statement. "Interactive Design Architects brings local knowledge and a track record for delivering excellence to large, complex civic projects. We were extremely impressed by each of the proposals from the seven firms and thank them for their passion, effort, resources and time throughout this process.”

The selection was made off a list of seven finalists released last year, which included four firms from New York, two in Europe and one in Chicago. The foundation said in September that 140 architectural firms from 25 countries and 60 cities applied to design the presidential center.

“We are deeply moved by the mission of the Obama Foundation and the role the Center can play in empowering that mission," a statement from Tod Williams and Billie Tsien read. "It is a joy, an honor, and a responsibility to create a place that reflects the optimism and integrity of the President and the First Lady. This has been a transformative presidency and we will work to make a Center that embodies and expands the Obamas' vision. We look forward to collaborating with our partners, Interactive Design Architects, and to working with the South Side community."

“As a native Chicagoan and resident of the South Side, this project is deeply meaningful to me and I could not be more excited," IDEA President Dina Griffin said in a statement.

The center will be located in one of two parks on Chicago's South Side and will be home to Obama's archives and a museum about his presidency. It is expected to be completed in 2020 or 2021.

The Barack Obama Foundation announced the location of the future Barack Obama Presidential Center in May, capping an intense campaign for the library.

“The city of Chicago was instrumental in demonstrating to the President and First Lady the advantages of locating the future Obama Presidential Center in the city, and the University of Chicago brought to life the broad potential and vital energy of the South Side,” foundation chairman Martin Nesbitt said in a statement.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the project a "unique opportunity" for Chicago and advocated aggressively for the selection.

"It can be on the South Side. It can be on the West Side, but it cannot be on the Upper West Side of Manhattan," Emanuel, Obama's former White House Chief of Staff, said while campaigning for a second term at City Hall.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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