In September 2014, the Foundation solicited responses to a request for proposals to host the Obama Presidential Center from the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Hawaii, and Columbia University. To encourage creativity and a range of suggestions from the applicants, the Foundation did not make these proposals public.
The Foundation then carefully reviewed the ideas presented, announced in May 2015 that it would locate the Center on the South Side of Chicago, and ultimately decided in July 2016 to locate the Center in Jackson Park, steps away from where President Obama began his career, where Mrs. Obama was raised, and where—together—they made their home. The Foundation chose Jackson Park because of any site under consideration, it offered the best combination of an iconic location, connective power to other institutions, and opportunity for long-term impact on the community.
The Foundation publicly released its own design concept for the Center in May 2017. Since then, we have gone through a robust public process to garner feedback and inform updates to the plan. With eight public meetings and multiple City Council hearings, in addition to countless small group, one-on-one meetings, visits to local community centers, and an online survey, the review process has been collaborative and transparent. Now, after having received approval in May 2018 from the City Council on our plan, the Obama Foundation is looking forward to the City Council voting on October 31 on the use agreement that will guarantee the Obama Presidential Center is a public asset for the entire City of Chicago.
Given the request from Protect our Parks for the University of Chicago’s proposal, we thought it was appropriate to make each of the four proposals from 2014 public today.
As review of these proposals makes clear, the plan the Foundation ultimately put forward is our own. We are confident that our plan for the Obama Presidential Center is consistent with Chicago's rich tradition of locating world-class museums in its parks, and we look forward to breaking ground next year and developing a lasting cultural institution on the South Side.
University of Chicago
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Hawaii