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Adjaye misses out on Obama’s presidential library job

Barack Obama
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US firm Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects has beaten Adjaye Associates in the competition to design the Barack Obama Foundation’s new presidential library in Chicago

Working with Interactive Design Architects the practice also saw off competition from seven other firms including Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Snohetta, New York’s SHoP Architects and John Ronan Architects of Chicago. 

The international competition, which launched in the summer, had responses from more than 140 entries.

The building will include a library for the presidential archives, a museum focused on Obama’s presidency, and space for programmes and initiatives which ‘advance the foundation’s public mission’.

Its location is yet to be confirmed but two sites – at Jackson Park and Washington Park – are currently being considered.

Martin Nesbitt, chairman of the Obama Foundation, said: ‘Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects stood out in their commitment to exploring, together with the Foundation, the best ways of creating an innovative center for action that inspires communities and individuals to take on our biggest challenges. Interactive Design Architects brings local knowledge and a track record for delivering excellence to large, complex civic projects.’ 

Robbin Cohen, executive director of the foundation, added: ‘Tod and Billie’s past projects display an incredible commitment to scale, craft and materiality, and their proposal demonstrated an equally genuine commitment to also carefully balance an understanding and respect for the history and potential of the South Side, the Olmstead and Vaux-designed park setting and Chicago’s overall architectural legacy.’ 

Commenting on the project, Williams and Tsien, said: ‘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.’ 

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.

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