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Only One Chicago Architect Makes Final List for Obama Library

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Obama Foundation

After months of anticipation, the Obama Foundation has announced the short list of architects that will compete for the opportunity to design the high-profile Obama Presidential Center for Chicago's South Side. According to an announcement from the Obama Foundation, the seven finalists are: Adjaye Associates (London), Diller Scofidio + Renfro (New York), John Ronan Architects (Chicago), Renzo Piano Building Workshop (Genova, Italy), SHoP Architects (New York), Snøhetta (New York) and Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects (New York). The list is composed of some of the most notable architects around the world, several of which have already designed buildings in Chicago. In the announcement, Obama Foundation chairman Martin Nesbitt indicated that he felt that the finalists represent a diverse mix of backgrounds and styles. "We are excited to see this process moving forward because the Obama Presidential Center will be so much more than a library — this facility will seek to inspire citizens across the globe to better their communities, their countries, and their world," Nesbitt stated. However, despite previous suggestions that the Obama Foundation had been giving extra consideration to architects based in the Windy City, only one of the seven finalists is based in Chicago — the city that President Obama calls home.

Previous rumors speculated that David Adjaye was going to be the favorite for the prestigious project, and the architect was the first one listed by the Obama Foundation in their statement that revealed the finalists. The list is dominated by firms based in New York, however. Four of the final seven architects selected by the Obama Foundation are based in the Big Apple. Back in late-August/early-September, Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin did his own research and confirmed that several high-profile firms in Chicago were submitting a bid for the project. Surprisingly, none of the Chicago-based architects listed in the story from September made it to the last stage.


[The library will end up at one of these two sites.]

Does Ronan stand a chance against Adjaye? While Chicago can boast in having a vast collection of world-renowned architects like Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, Studio Gang Architects, Tigerman McCurry Architects and SOM, Ronan is perhaps one of the most under appreciated names in the Windy City. John Ronan's design for the Poetry Foundation's HQ earned him numerous accolades and critical praise, but will his portfolio and final submission be enough to beat out the likes of Piano, SHoP and Adjaye? We won't know until the Obamas have made their final decision sometime in the first quarter of 2016.

·Obama Foundation names finalists to design presidential library [Chicago Tribune]
·All-Star List of Architecture Firms In Running for Obama Library [Curbed Chicago]
·Obama Presidential Library Architect: 7 Finalists Announced [Curbed National]