The Obama Presidential Center
Rooted in Chicago and designed by you
The Obama family called the South Side home — and the Obama Presidential Center is, first and foremost, a collaboration with our neighbors. Welcome to your one-stop resource for staying up-to-date, sharing your ideas and feedback, and getting involved in the Center’s planning and programming.
We’re designing the Obama Presidential Center to be a destination for visitors and residents alike – an engaging place for families to enjoy themselves, be inspired, and learn tools to make a positive change in their communities.
You’ve shared that you want safe and welcoming paths and entrances. Community spaces where you can gather with your neighbors for cookouts, musical performances, and farmers’ markets. Room for community gardens and wildlife observation opportunities.
“I am a retired World History teacher so education is very important in the complex and I teach preschoolers at church, so interactive activities to enlighten our young to be good citizens and learn history would be needed. Sporting activities would bring the young to the park along with outdoor play areas."
“Yoga on the Great Lawn is an amazing experience. I feel so fortunate to be a Chicagoan who is connecting with others to maintain wellness every time I attend. I can not wait to get to the Obama Center. I certainly hope you will have activities there that emphasize wellness. I will be there with bells on!”
“I’d love to see bike paths in the park that are somehow safely separated from walking paths, so that walker and bikers can both enjoy.”
“Annual Festival events at the park would be nice. Chicago is well known for its street festivals.”
“I live further south in the Pullman neighborhood and am hoping that this park will be a quiet safe to visit to enjoy the Lake Front, exercise and hopefully provide summer job opportunities for my college age son. I would love to help anyway I can to bring the Obama's vision to fruition.”
And, we’re listening. The Center and surrounding area will be a space for everyone — and the majority of it will be completely free and open.
Here are some of the features we’re considering building into the Obama Presidential Center based on what we’ve heard from Chicagoans like you — and we’ll continue to ask for and incorporate your feedback every step of the way:
Inspired by Mrs. Obama’s kitchen garden in the White House, this hybrid display and teaching garden will be open for walk-throughs, tours, and scheduled classes.
The kitchen will serve as the link between the garden and the Center’s food services, teaching visitors about the full production cycle of nutritious food.
A place for creative expression for visitors to the Obama Presidential Center, in which visitors will be able to create their own songs, speeches, short films, and interviews.
Complementing nearby spaces like the Jackson Park Field House and the YMCA, the athletic center will be a place for enjoying neighborhood athletic activities.
Combined Park and Parking Facility
We’re evaluating every aspect of the Center — even its parking structures — through the lens of increasing foot traffic in the community and creating new spaces for families to gather and play together. Read more about our proposed park and parking structure here.
Thousands of new local jobs.
Hundreds of thousands of new visitors.
A renewed Jackson Park.
Beyond providing Chicagoans across the city with the opportunity to come together as citizens, the Obama Presidential Center will provide real economic benefits to the South Side. And we’re committed to making sure those jobs are available to everyone.
What does that look like in practice? For example, all Construction Manager candidates must commit to awarding 50% or more of their contracts to diverse suppliers. And no less than 35% of all construction contracts will be awarded to minority business enterprise firms. We’re working with our Construction Manager candidates to ensure they are training and retaining a deep pipeline of workers from underrepresented communities like Woodlawn, Washington Park, and South Shore.
The Center is estimated to support nearly 5,000 new, local jobs during its construction, and more than 2,500 permanent jobs once the Center opens. The Center will attract up to 760,000 annual visitors — and in its first 10 years, is expected to have a total economic impact of $3.1 billion. We want to work with you to ensure the hundreds of thousands of visitors enjoy local businesses and that impact is felt across the South Side.
The Obama Presidential Center is Committed to Hiring a Diverse Workforce
Over the course of his eight years in office, President Obama built the most diverse White House and Administration in history, with more women and people of color in top policy positions than ever before. He wants to do the same thing with the Obama Presidential Center. One of our goals for this project is to bring more diversity to the construction industry — and in so doing, give South Side residents opportunities for both short-term jobs and long-term professions.
From community meetings to farmers markets, talks, and parades, we’re hosting and participating in events all across Chicago. Take a look at some of our recent engagement — and make sure you’re on the list to receive the latest on upcoming events.
Obama Foundation Public Meeting
Chicago Park District Public Meetings
South Lakefront Framework Plan
CDOT Public Meetings
Traffic Mitigation and Road Improvements around Jackson Park
Harper Court Summer Music Series
Hyde Park Farmers Market
African Festival of the Arts
September 1 - 4, 2017
South Shore Jazz Festival
August 20, 2017
88th Annual Bud Billiken Parade
August 12, 2017
Taste of WVON
July 15, 2017
Silver Room Block Party
July 15, 2017
Chosen Few Music Festival
July 1-2, 2017
Stories from the South Side
The shared stories and voices of thousands of Chicagoans have inspired the plans for and breathed life into this Presidential Center. Meet a few of them below — and then join the conversation shaping the Center.
Tell us about yourself below, and we’ll be in touch with specific ways you can help.