Obama Presidential Center on Today’s Agenda

The Obama Presidential Center has caught what the British call “the American disease.”  That means a lawsuit.

The proposal to slurp up a chunk of Jackson Park and close some neighboring streets has neighbors so upset, they’re going to ask a judge to stop it.

Obama Presidential Center model (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)

Obama Presidential Center model (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)

If you’ve been following this saga, you know that the Obama Foundation ruffled feathers when it decided that instead of using the abundant vacant private land on the south side of Chicago for its monumental campus, it would plonk down in the middle of a historic public park.

Things got worse when it decided to glom on to a city block’s worth of an adjacent park to keep the stinky tour buses away.

The former president personally appealed to locals to let him have their greenspace, but it didn’t fly.  Now the mess is going to federal court.

In addition to the land grab, the umbrella group Protect our Parks is sore that the seven-building campus won’t be a true presidential library, like everyone expected.  Instead, it’s going to be… well, it’s hard to know what to call it officially.  The Obama Foundation uses a lot of aspirational phrases like “a campus for active citizenship” and “an ongoing project where we will shape, together, what it means to be a good citizen in the 21st century.”  But even its own web site admits the project remains, “a work in progress.”

In order for Mr. Obama’s ziggurat to be an official presidential library, it has to house the presidential archives.  And those are the property of the National Archives, along with the obamalibrary.gov web site.

(For a bit of trivia — Bill Clinton had the first presidential web site, launched in 1994.  Click here to see an archived version.  For a bit of a laugh, it’s interesting to know that the Dole/Kemp ’96 web site is still available!)

The Obama Center is on the agenda for this morning’s Chicago Plan Commission meeting.  So if you missed this weekend’s fireworks at Navy Pier, there will be plenty of pyrotechnics on the second floor of City Hall at 10:00am.

Location: 5901 South Stony Island Avenue, East Hyde Park

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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