Former President Obama unveiled plans for his presidential library on Wednesday and it’s second to none. The Obama Center will be integrated in the historic Jackson Park neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, where the Obamas call home.
Obama’s early work as a community organizer will have a big impact on the overall mission of the library. The Center will have classrooms, labs, outdoor areas where visitors and local can gather and mingle. It will “strengthen the economic climate of the community by bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors to the South Side every year, creating new jobs and opportunities,” while “revitalizing historic Jackson Park,” a news release said.
“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.”
The design: “The Museum, the tallest of the three buildings, will hold exhibition space, public spaces, offices, and education and meeting rooms. The Forum and Library buildings will be community resources for study and Foundation programming. The Foundation is currently exploring the possibility of locating a Chicago Public Library branch on the site, but as always will continue to solicit input from the community as to how the Library building can best be used to meet community needs.”
“The Forum will contain Foundation offices, an auditorium, restaurant, and public garden. The Forum and Library will be single story structures with planted roof terraces. The buildings will be connected below grade and clad in a lively, warm and variegated stone while glass openings are deliberately placed to form courtyards, mark entries, frame views, and bring in natural light. The Center will be a real-life symbol of President and Mrs. Obama’s commitment to sustainability; the project will be certified at a minimum LEED v4 Platinum. The total size of the Center will range between 200-225,000 gross square feet, but the concept site plan imagines a re-shaping of the Park that will result in a total net increase in green space for Jackson Park.”
The Obama Center will house the first digital archives for the first digital president. “All of the unclassified paper records from the administration will be digitized soon after the end of the administration. This will help the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), which retains ongoing control over presidential records, make the records more easily accessible to the public.”
“In making this decision, the Obama Foundation is prioritizing providing NARA with a digital archives to serve historians and scholars, instead of building a Presidential Library to hold the paper records.”
The Obama Center is slated to open in 2021 and will cost an estimated $500 million. You can donate to the Obama Foundation by clicking HERE.