By Frederick H. Lowe
The library will have a dual role of improving the economy in a neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, where it will be constructed. In addition to being a destination point for tourists from around the world, the Presidential Library Center will serve as magnet to attract more businesses, jobs and other services to the area. The Obama Foundation is considering two sites on Chicago’s Mid-South Side for the first Presidential Library in Chicago—Jackson Park and Washington Park.
The team of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects (TWBTA) and Interactive Design Architects (IDEA) of Chicago will design the Obama Presidential Center, which will house President Obama’s archives. The center also will focus on the Obama presidency and the issues of our time.
Dina Griffin, a black woman architect, is president of IDEA, but all of the firm’s other top officials, including its founders, are white. The firm qualifies as a minority and women-owned business.
Tod Williams and Billie Tsien is a husband and wife team of a white man and an Asian woman with an all-white staff, based on a staff photo.
The Obama Foundation issued a Request for Proposals on December 21 to seven architectural firms that were selected from more than 140 firms worldwide that applied for the job.
The two firms will lead a multi-disciplinary and wide-ranging design effort that may ultimately include 15 to 20 other firms engaged in various specialty areas crucial to the center’s design.
“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 First Lady,” said Williams and Tsien. “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 working with the South Side community.”