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Obama Library Architect Announced

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Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects have been selected by the Obama Foundation to design the new facility on Chicago’s South Side

Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects
Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects
via Obama Foundation

Nearly a year after the Obama Foundation kicked off its search for an architect, the Obamas has announced that Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects will lead the design effort for the future Obama Presidential Center for Chicago’s South Side. The facility, which will be the first presidential library located in the core a dense urban environment, will be built in Jackson Park or Washington Park. The Obama Foundation has previously indicated that the library’s architect will help decide which site the project will be built at.

According to Martin Nesbitt, chairman of the Obama Foundation, the husband and wife architects were chosen for their creative ideas to help engage the surrounding community. "Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners 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," Nesbitt stated in the official announcement. However, many other firms will be involved in the project from the design through construction phases. The Obama Foundation states that as many as 15-20 other firms may be involved in the project.

The announcement comes just days after filmmaker George Lucas officially pulled the plug on his museum plan for Chicago. However, unlike Lucas, the Obama Foundation has welcomed public discourse on the presidential library plan by hosting a series of community meetings to discuss the proposal.

Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, who recently spoke at the Museum of Contemporary Art to discuss their involvement in the competition, say that they are looking forward to working with the Obamas on the project. "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," Tod Williams and Billie Tsien stated in the formal announcement from the Obama Foundation. "This has been a transformative presidency and we will work to make a Center that embodies and expands the Obamas' vision."