After a high-profile unveiling this week, Chicago residents now finally have their first look at the proposed Obama Presidential Center for Jackson Park. The presidential library will be unconventional in a number of ways, and it’ll also be the first such complex in an urban center. During Obama’s big reveal this week, the former president wanted to reiterate that “it’s not a single building, it’s more like a campus.”
Early feedback and reactions across social media has been mixed, although some critics have praised the campus master plan which seeks to activate Jackson Park. And indeed, the plan will reshape a sizable section of the historic park, but the president also acknowledged that the design team is sensitive to the legacy and design of pioneering landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.
The president also acknowledged the inequity between the major anchor parks throughout the city. Obama says that Jackson Park doesn’t feel like Millennium Park or Lincoln Park, but his foundation seeks to activate it and make the South Side park more beautiful and accessible. One major component necessary to achieve Obama’s goal will be the closure of Cornell Drive and adding new parking facilities near the campus.
President Obama’s Jackson Park campus is certainly shaping up to be a game changer for the South Side and for the entire city, but what would you change about it? During the president’s event at the South Shore Cultural Center this week, he said that he wants the Obama Presidential Center to become an “institution where people come from around the country to teach and learn from one another.” And with a projected 600,000 to 700,000 annual visitors, the campus will also become a major economic engine.