Obama Center Design Revised Again

The design of the Barack Obama Presidential Center has been tweaked again.  Today the Obama Foundation released new information and renderings of the museum campus it wants to build in Jackson Park.

October 219 rendering of the Obama Presidential Center (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)
October 219 rendering of the Obama Presidential Center (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)

The most notable change is in the main museum tower.  It’s still 235 feet tall, but its shape is a little slimmer and it features large segments of glass on the north and south sides.  The south side glass faces out over the main plaza.  In the renderings, you’ll notice some zig-zags in the north side glass.  Those are probably stairs, indicating that the window allows people on the stairs to look outside, and vice-versa.  

Why would a stairwell get a feature window?  Probably because musea are like shopping malls — exterior walls are prized because you can put items against them.  They’re precious exhibit space.  Stairs are less important.

October 219 rendering of the Obama Presidential Center (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)
October 219 rendering of the Obama Presidential Center (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)

The top of the main building features a collection of large letters, used as a screen. The renderings make it look like gibberish, but it would be neat if the finished product spelled out quotations or a snippet from one of Mr. Obama’s speeches.

October 219 rendering of the Obama Presidential Center (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)
October 219 rendering of the Obama Presidential Center (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)

It’s also worth noting that the project now includes a branch of the Chicago Public Library, a cafe featuring “locally roasted coffees,” a veg patch, and an apiary.  There will be at least two new swales for treating storm water runoff, and an open-air theater that can be converted into a sledding hill in the winter.  

Before you start shining up ol’ Rosebud, remember that this project is still the subject of scorn and controversy.  A federal review of the project continues, so in spite of the efforts of chainsaw-wielding city workers, this part of Jackson Park won’t see real construction anytime soon.

Location: 6225 South Stony Island Avenue, East Hyde Park

Editor

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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