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Obama Presidential Center

A rendering depiction of the Plaza at the Obama Presidential Center.

The Obama Presidential Center represents a historic opportunity to build a world-class cultural institution and campus that celebrates democracy and tells the story of our country through the lens of our nation’s first African American President and First Lady.

The decision to build the Center on the South Side of Chicago was an intentional one, intended to connect with the community that forever shaped the lives, values, and beliefs of President and Mrs. Obama. 

It will be a physical manifestation of our mission and it will be a place where our neighbors from across the street or around the globe can come to reflect, grow, connect, and create a better future. 

The Center will invite visitors to find their own purpose and discover their collective ability to make their communities and the world as it should be through action.

The Center is an invitation for all of us to bring change home. 

Thanks in part to the generosity of our donors, we’re naming key spaces throughout the Center after civil rights activists, trailblazers, local Chicago historic figures, and others on whose shoulders we stand. Our intention is that these named spaces will also motivate visitors to find new inspiration to make change in their own communities.

A close up shows an excerpt from President Obama’s speech marking the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches that will display on the exterior of the Obama Presidential Center Museum.

A Closer Look: Oh, What a Glorious Task 

The exterior of the Museum building will feature words taken from President Obama’s speech marking the 50th anniversary of the civil rights marches from Selma to Montgomery, in which he reflected on the power and promise of our democracy—citizens having the opportunity to take part in the “glorious task” of improving our democracy, and through that work, our communities, our nation, and our world. 

The building will serve as a historic landmark in Jackson Park, welcoming visitors to the South Side of Chicago and to the rest of the Center’s campus.

Inside the Museum, dynamic exhibits across four floors will highlight the events, policies, challenges, and accomplishments of the Obama Presidency. Rooted in the larger, complex discussion about democracy and the role of our nation's government since its founding, exhibitions will highlight the historical predecessors “on whose shoulders we stand”—those who made President and Mrs. Obama's stories possible. The exhibits will also feature the stories of today’s leaders to inspire visitors to push for change within their own communities.

Building on Progress

In 2021, we officially broke ground on the Obama Presidential Center, designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects + Partners. As construction continues in Jackson Park, passersby can now see the Museum Building rising above the treeline, along with other structures and foundations. When the campus is finished, it will be home to a sustainable landscape, designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and brought to life with native plants and energy-saving technologies. 

The South Side campus is being built by the Lakeside Alliance, a joint venture of Turner Construction Company, one of the biggest construction managers in the country, and four Chicago-area firms: Powers & Sons Construction, UJAMAA Construction, Brown & Momen, and Safeway Construction, which are some of the most established and well-respected Black-owned general contractors in the city.

And because we want the project to be built by people as diverse as the community the Center is a part of, we created the We Can Build It consortium. The group is made up of some of the best workforce development organizations in the city and includes Chicago Women in Trades, Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 134, HIRE360, Revolution Workshop, and St. Paul Community Development Ministries.

We Can Build It is creating a pipeline of diverse talent that is not only equipped to build the Obama Presidential Center, but is also prepared to participate in future projects across the city. 

resident Obama wears a hard hat and green construction vest while walking with several others.

We have committed $1.35 million to train 536 new pre-apprentices from the South and West Sides of Chicago.

We have ambitious workforce goals and a vision to be a model of innovative, inclusive construction practices, and we’re making it a reality. 

A Closer Look: The Programs & Athletic Center

No project inspired by the Obamas would be complete without a place to shoot some hoops and get active. 

With the help of our builders, Elevate Design Build Group and Moody Nolan, the largest Black-owned architecture firm in the United States, we are building the Programs & Athletic Center. The space will be a community anchor with additional areas for recreation and community programming, providing safe space for physical activity for young people during after school hours and in summer months while also offering space for community organizations and people of all ages throughout the year to gather, exercise, and play.

The recreational hub anchors the south end of the Obama Presidential Center campus, sitting just north of the new Jackson Park track and field and adjacent to the South Side YMCA, Jackson Park Field House, and Hyde Park Academy.

A rendering of the future Obama Presidential Center Athletic  Center. A brightly lit basketball court is filled with people watching and engaging in activity.


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