Design For Obama’s Presidential Library Gives Lakefront Back To Chicagoans

Design For Obama’s Presidential Library Gives Lakefront Back To Chicagoans

HOK Chicago's proposal aims to create a new green space in the city.

Leah Gonzalez
  • 24 june 2014

The Chicago design, architecture, engineering and planning firm HOK has revealed its proposal for the Barack Obama Presidential Library in Chicago.

The firm has partnered with the President Obama Library and the non-profit organization Museum Campus Foundation for their design bid to The Barack Obama Foundation. The proposal was developed by a planning and design team in collaboration with 20 firms, organizations, as well as community groups.

The team’s proposal includes building the library on a site in Bronzeville, a historic neighborhood in the south side of Chicago, and the design of the entire site is meant to reflect the “grassroots spirit of the Obama campaign to reflect the President’s agenda.”


In a press release, Peter Ruggiero, AIA, design principal for HOK’s Chicago practice, said,

Our proposal challenges the historic trend of designing presidential libraries as static repositories of a presidency. By fully realizing the potential of the site, the Barack Obama Presidential Library would go beyond cataloguing President Obama’s eight years in office. As a living part of this historic South Side neighborhood, it would drive economic development and reinforce a sense of place at a crossroads of Chicago.

The proposed design of the presidential library highlights the history of the area as Chicago’s original African-American neighborhood and the team envisions the library to become a site that inspires transformation, promotes sustainable growth and attracts investment projects that will benefit the community and the city.

The proposed library site also aims to create new urban spaces, as well as give back some spaces to the residents of the Chicago. One of the proposed feature of the site is to extend the Chicago Museum Campus to the south and create a better access to the lakefront.


The proposal also includes the creation of an elevated park that will provide views along 31st, 29th and 26th Streets. The site creates a new green space in the city that can potentially serve as suitable locations for vertical farms as well as land that can be used in environmental and other scientific research.

The proposed design for the library also aims to achieve Living Building Challenge certification, creating a site that melds with the coastal environment and complements existing restoration programs.



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