Architects selected for Obama Presidential Center

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Thursday, June 30, 2016
Architects chosen for Barack Obama presidential library
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Two architecture firms - one in New York and one in Chiacgo - have been selected to work together on the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Chicago.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Barack Obama Foundation announced Thursday that Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects has been chosen for the library that will be built near the university where Obama once taught constitutional law.

Designs by the firm include the Barnes Foundation art museum in Philadelphia and the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, California.

Williams and Tsien will partner with Chicago architecture firm Interactive Design Architects for the project.

"The chemistry between those two firms and the president and first lady seems to be really good," said Martin Nesbitt, chairman of the Obama Library Foundation.

"TWBTA stood out in their commitment to explore the best ways of creating an innovative center for action that inspires communities and individuals to take on our biggest challenges," the Foundation says on its website. "IDEA brings local knowledge and a track record for delivering excellence to large, complex civic projects."

Williams and Tsien issued a statement, saying, "We are deeply moved by the mission of the Obama Foundation and the role the Center can play in empowering that mission. It is a joy, an honor, and a responsibility to create a place that reflects the optimism and integrity of the President and the First Lady. This has been a transformative presidency and we will work to make a Center that embodies and expands the Obamas' vision. We look forward to collaborating with our partners, Interactive Design Architects, and to working with the South Side community."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel also issued a statement, saying, "As the future home of the Barack Obama Presidential Center, the City of Chicago congratulates Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and Interactive Design Architects who have been chosen by the Obama Foundation to bring this legacy project to life. These two firms have a successful track record of creating innovative civic projects across the country, including the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago. When complete, the Presidential Center will offer tremendous educational, cultural, and economic benefits to the City and its residents. The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity doubles down on investments already being made on the South Side, creating opportunities for all Chicagoans."

Other projects designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects include the Barnes Foundation art museum in Philadelphia and the LeFrak Center in New York City.

Interactive Design Architects is a ten-person firm headquartered in Chicago, whose works include the University of Chicago's Eckhardt Research Center and recladding the facade of the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago.

The center will be located on the South Side, either in Washington Park or Jackson Park. It is expected to be completed by 2021.

"These two sites are incredibly close together and Jackson Park and Washington Park are really one park because they're connected by the midway, so we're thinking of them as 'South Parks' and we're thinking of the impact of this center, whether it's on the east side of the South Parks or the west side of the South Parks, it will impact the entire community that surrounds," Nesbitt said.

The library will hold archives from Obama's eight years in office.

Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects were among seven firms selected as finalists. The other finalists were: Diller Scofidio and Renfro, SHoP Architects, Snohetta and of New York; John Ronan Architects of Chicago, Renzo Piano Building Workshop of Italy; and Adjaye Associates of London.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.