Full building permits have been issued for the Obama Presidential Center. Spanning from E. 59th Street to E. 62nd Street and bound by S. Stony Island Avenue to the west, the complex will take over a parcel of land inside Jackson Park, adjacent to the Midway Plaisance. Planned by The Obama Foundation, the center will feature multiple buildings designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, with landscape design by Michael van Valkenburgh Associates.
The first building will be a museum, rising 235 feet in a stone-sheathed tower. Addressed at 6001 S. Stony Island Avenue, its form is inspired by the idea of four hands coming together, embodying the concept of ascension. The 12-story museum will be topped by the Sky Room, a space that will offer visitors views of Lake Michigan, downtown, and the rest of the South Side.
The second building on the campus will be the Forum. Addressed at 6011 S. Stony Island Avenue, the building will welcome visitors and the community. Rising a modest two floors, it will be home to an auditorium, a broadcast and recording studio, flexible learning/meeting spaces, and a restaurant. A public plaza will connect the museum tower and forum structure.
The final piece of the complex will be a new library building, holding a Chicago Public Library branch. The two-story structure will contain digital media spaces and amenities for children, informational and vocational resources for adults, and a reading room for everyone to utilize. The building, addressed at 6021 S Stony Island Avenue, will be topped by a roof garden.
A parking structure at 6101 S Stony Island Avenue was also permitted in this batch of permits. It allows for the construction of a one-story lower-level parking structure for visitors.
The rest of the campus will be a series of outdoor spaces that combine into a larger park space for the center. It will offer play areas, walking paths, a sledding hill, and a long pedestrian promenade to join the campus to Jackson Park. The historic Women’s Garden will be restored with plantings, pathways, and seating before the center opens.
The reported $830 million center broke ground in October of 2021, with Barack and Michelle Obama attending alongside Governor J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot. With work already underway on the caissons, the full building permits will allow work to continue on site. Expected to take four years, the Obama Presidential Center is scheduled to open in 2025.