Obama at odds with community organizers over plans for presidential library

Obama at odds with community organizers over plans for presidential library

On Wednesday, the Obama Foundation formally started the process with the city of Chicago to build the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park. Some of the brilliance of Frederick Olmsted's plan for Jackson Park is dormant on on a gray January day, but spring may reveal more about what future visitors will see in the park. A series of approvals must happen first. We've taken your thoughts and concerns, and reconsidered and reconceived various aspects of the campus design and the details of the architecture.

WBEZ South Side reporter Natalie Moore joined host Melba Lara to discuss the changes included in today's plan.

In addition to concerns about diminishing parkland, the letter suggests that building the Obama Center at the Jackson Park site is unlikely to spark economic investment in the surrounding area, which already includes the Museum of Science of Industry and the University. "Not just listening for show, but actively incorporating what we've learned into the plans".

These buildings will frame a community-facing public plaza, created to be a town square of sorts for gatherings both informal and planned.

Instead, the proposed center would include a recording studio, basketball courts, and a children's play garden.


Grass-roots activists, conservationists and academics on Chicago's South Side say the Obama Presidential Center, as now planned, does not do enough to benefit neighborhoods badly in need of economic revitalization. We actually designed it with this photo in mind - of hands coming together - and so each facade of the tower will be a little different from the next.

In a letter signed by scores of faculty members, the professors argue that while they broadly "support the idea of establishing the Obama Center in our neighborhood", they also share many concerns expressed by local community groups about the existing proposal.

"When I was younger, there was a time I dreamed of being an architect", said Obama. More than a museum with stories from the past, we want this to be a place that helps and inspires all of us to build our collective future.

Its goals are to provide opportunities for civic engagement, enhance public safety in an around the park, and bring jobs and economic opportunity to Chicago's South Side. "So, as you might guess, I've been pretty hands-on in the plans for this Center - and Michelle has, too".

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