Jackson Park Selected for Obama Presidential Center

More information will be announced at a press conference on Wednesday, August 3 at the Museum of Science and Industry.

By Kaitlyn Akin

Update 7/29/2016: The Obama Foundation officially announced today that Jackson Park will be the site of the Presidential Center, confirming earlier reports.

“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,” President Obama said in a statement released by the Obama Foundation. “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.”

More information on the Obama Presidential Center will be announced at a press conference held at the Museum of Science and Industry on Wednesday, August 3. This conference will include representatives from the Foundation, the City of Chicago, and the University, as well as prominent community leaders.

Barack and Michelle Obama have selected Jackson Park as the site of the Obama Presidential Center, according to a source familiar with the decision-making process. This news comes a week before the official announcement is expected.

In February, Paul Goldberger, an adviser to the Obama Foundation, spoke at length about the team’s preference for the alternative option of Washington Park in an interview with architecture website Common Edge. “Washington Park is much more in the nitty-gritty of the city. There’s an elevated transit station adjacent to it. It’s got all kinds of interesting stuff going on, all kinds of urban potential,” Goldberger said.

However, he acknowledged in the same interview that Jackson Park would be the more conventional option due to its proximity to Lake Michigan and the Museum of Science and Industry.

The planning process for the Presidential Center has been ongoing since 2009, just a few months after President Obama began his first term. That June, the University of Chicago formed a committee to discuss the possibility of a presidential library in Hyde Park. Negotiations have been ongoing ever since, but not without controversy. Friends of the Parks, a nonprofit devoted to protecting public spaces within the city, threatened a lawsuit against the Obamas if they used either Washington or Jackson Park as the site for the Center. The group has not yet filed a suit. The Obama Presidential Center will be designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, the same New York–based firm that designed the Logan Center for the Arts.

According to a source from the Obama Foundation, more information on the decision will be available in the coming weeks.