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Obama Reveals Designs For His Presidential Center In Chicago.

Former president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama revealed the conceptual designs of the eagerly awaited Obama Presidential Center in Chicago's historic Jackson Park Wednesday while speaking about the project at the South Shore Cultural Center in Chicago, Illinois.

Obama said that despite a bidding competition regarding the center's location, his vote had always been for the University of Chicago's push for a South Side location.

"Although we had a formal bidding process to determine where the presidential library was going to be, the fact of the matter was it had to be right here on the South Side of Chicago," Obama said during the unveiling of the plans in Chicago.

This event the former first couple's first joint appearance after Obama left office in January. They traveled to Chicago to hold a forum about the plans and discussed how the plans will be executed for the presidential center campus. The museum is expected to be completed by 2021. It has been designed by husband-and-wife architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien and is estimated to cost $500 million. 

The construction of the Obama presidential library will be paid through private donations and its maintenance is funded by American taxpayers, like the nation's 13 other presidential libraries.

Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, a public plaza in the city park will surround the entire area that constitutes the center, which will include three buildings - a museum, forum and library on Chicago's South Side.

According to the Obama Foundation's plans, the museum is expected to be the tallest among the three buildings and it will hold public spaces, exhibition space, offices and education and meeting rooms.

The library and forum buildings will be used for study and foundation programming. Obama also mentioned that his foundation, which is in-charge of the entire project, is also trying to locate a Chicago Public Library branch on the site.

"If you ask a lot of people outside of Chicago, about Chicago, what's the first thing they talk about? They talk about the violence," Obama said at the forum where revealed the plans.

"Jackson Park feels different than Lincoln Park or Millennium Park," added Obama, as he referred to the downtown and North Side parks in more affluent areas of Chicago. "It's not as good as it could be," he said.

The former president's plan shows the museum anchoring the northern end of the plaza on the estimated total 200,000 to 225,000 square feet campus of the presidential center. The roofs of the forum and library buildings will be covered with plants in order create new park land. Obama also expects to build a sledding hill to the park, which has been a dream for him and his wife since she grew up on the South Side.

"It incorporates the best of the outdoors and the best of the indoors," ( said Louise McCurry, president of the Jackson Park Advisory Council. "There's lots of green space, lots of grass and room for kids to run and to play."

Obama envisioned the presidential center to become a hub for young people to learn music and films, get trained in leadership so that they can make a difference.

"What we want this to be is the world premiere institution for training young people in leadership to (help them) make a difference in their communities, in their country and in their world," he said.

"It's not just a building. It's not just a park. Hopefully it's a hub where all of us can see a brighter future for the South Side," ( he told the audience at the South Shore Cultural Center.
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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Geographic Code:1U3IL
Date:May 4, 2017
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