Barack Obama’s Chicago roots run deep. The nation’s 44th president worked as a community organizer on the South Side where he launched his political career by winning a seat in the Illinois State Senate. His wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, was born and raised on the South Side. And of course, Obama is a huge White Sox fan. Now the legacy of the first African-American president will have a permanent fixture in the city he called home for so many years, as President Obama has selected Jackson Park as the site of his presidential library.
“Michelle and I are thrilled that the Obama Presidential Center will be developed in the heart of Chicago’s South Side, a community we call home and that means the world to us,” Obama said in a statement. “With a center in Jackson Park, not only will we be able to affect local change, but we can attract the world to this historic neighborhood, whose rich cultural heritage dates back to the 1893 World’s Fair. We are proud that the center will help spur development in an urban area and we can’t wait to forge new ways to give back to the people of Chicago who have given us so much.”
Jackson Park beat out another contender for the presidential library, nearby Washington Park. The site is located along the shores of Lake Michigan close to the University of Chicago, where Obama taught for 12 years at the law school. Jackson Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux for the 1893 World’s Fair. The park already houses the Museum of Science and Industry.
The Barack Obama Foundation selected the New York-based husband-and-wife team of Tod Williams and Billie Tsien to design the library out of 140 proposals. The architects will have help from Chicago-based studio Interactive Design Architects (IDEA).
The library is expected to be completed in 2021 at a cost of at least $500 million. The project will include the library housing the presidential archives, a museum dedicated to Obama’s two terms in office and the headquarters of the Obama Foundation. It will be the 14th presidential library administered by the Office of Presidential Libraries, part of the National Archives and Records Administration.