Obama Library Could Require $1.5 Billion To Construct, Maintain

A $1.5 billion cost for the Library would be three times the $500 million George W. Bush raised for his Presidential Library in Dallas.

By Hillel Steinmetz

Speaking at an award ceremony last Wednesday, the architects of the Obama presidential library speculated that the library could require Barack Obama to raise $1.5 billion. 

The event, hosted at Lincoln Center in New York, presented wife and husband duo Billie Tsien and Tod Williams with the LongHouse Award for their architectural accomplishments, which include designing the Logan Center for Arts at the University of Chicago.  

The architects said at the ceremony that the hefty price tag for the library is the result of new federal requirements that expect former presidents to establish larger endowments to accommodate the annual expenses of future presidential libraries. 

A $1.5 billion cost for the library would be three times the $500 million George W. Bush raised for his presidential library in Dallas. About half of the money raised for Bush’s library went towards building the structures that housed the library. 

Williams added that the buildings housing the Obama Presidential Library could cost upwards of $300 million. Williams and Tsien noted that it might be difficult for Obama to raise the money necessary to construct and operate the library since he did not fundraise while in office. 

Last week saw other developments for the library. On Wednesday, Obama returned to Chicago for the first time since leaving office in order to start planning the construction of the library. At O’Hare International Airport on Thursday, a plane delivered documents and materials from Obama’s presidency that will be archived in the library. 

The library, which will be built in Jackson Park, is expected to be completed by 2021.