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Obama begins search for presidential library architect

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The Barack Obama Foundation has launched its hunt for an architect to design a new presidential library in Chicago’s Southside

The charitable organisation has issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) to a number of mostly US-based firms but other international companies may also apply.

The Obama Presidential Centre will feature an interactive museum, green spaces, an indoor and outdoor performance area and healthy dining facilities.

A new headquarters for the Obama Foundation will also be included.

Foundation chair Martin Nesbitt said: ‘We’re thrilled that the process of selecting an architectural firm for the Obama Presidential Centre is now underway.

‘This process is the next step toward the creation of the Obama Presidential Centre, which will serve as a forum to inspire and empower people to take action on the big challenges of our time.’

In May the foundation announced the building would be located in either Washington Park or Jackson Park in the city’s Southside.

An exact location for the prestigious structure – expected to feature a museum, library, offices and multimedia exhibition – has however yet to be confirmed.

Overlooking Lake Michigan, Jackson Park (pictured) is a major tourist destination which already hosts the city’s Museum of Science and Industry.

Nearby Washington Park – connected to the former green space by Midway Plaisance avenue – is meanwhile close to several disused development sites and has greater regeneration potential.

So far 13 presidential libraries have been set up to preserve historical material relating to past US presidents.  

The foundation is planning to raise around £500 million to pay for the new centre which will continue to promote Obama’s presidential agenda after he steps down in early 2017.

During the RFQ stage applicants must submit their credentials, references and examples of previous work.

The president and first lady will then select a number of finalists to participate in a request for proposals (RFP) phase.

During the RFP stage finalists will present ‘creative ideas’ in response to the foundation’s project goals and site information.

A winner will be announced in early 2016.




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