With just two years left in office, Barack Obama is wasting no time on the planning of the Obama Presidential Library. While proposals stream in from Chicago, New York, and Hawaii, the three places vying to house the site, the Chicago Architectural Club announced the 2014 Chicago Prize–winning designs that bend the shape and the rules of the national institution.
The Chicago Prize–winning designs are spherical and orbital structures that rethink the purpose of a presidential center. The open-air globe design by Aras Burak Sen features eight levels, each focusing on a different year of Obama’s presidency. The amphitheater at the base has no glass or walls, offering a public forum for free speech.
On the ground floor, a peace sign connects Chicago’s three riverbanks, reflecting the hope felt during Obama’s first year. On each subsequent level, the peace sign morphs to represent the distortion of that hope over time.
The second winning design team, comprised of Zhu Wenyi, Fu Junsheng, and Liang Yiang, envisioned a ring (or “O” for Obama?) floating over the confluence of the Chicago River. Its circular shape stands out amid the city’s urban grid. Exhibits on the president’s life are divided into six sections that visitors experience by walking along and between parallel paths.
The rooftop is a true “fifth elevation,” visible from surrounding towers and inscribed with the famous Obama quote, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” On January 31, it was announced that the Barack Obama Foundation would manage the planning of the library, which is expected to cost around $500 million.
Rumors have swirled around British architect David Adjaye as the designer, as well as Chicago for the site, but we won’t know for sure until March.
Photos courtesy of the Chicago Architectural Club