We are building the Obama Presidential Center in partnership with the community and with City agencies, including the Chicago Department of Transportation, the Chicago Park District, and the Department of Planning and Development. The updates below reflect work by these groups and the Obama Foundation to bring the Obama Presidential Center to life.
September 1, 2023
It has been a season of great progress on the construction of the Obama Presidential Center. The height of the stair and elevator wells of the Museum Building have passed the halfway-point of the building—around 100 feet high—and the concrete walls and floors are following closely behind. Construction crews are now readying the Museum Building for its next critical operation: the installation of the granite and glass that will create the exterior finish of the Museum, Forum, and Library Buildings. The granite will begin to be installed after Labor Day.
The Forum and Library Building roofs are being framed and crews have begun pouring concrete. When that work is complete, the full height of the Forum and Library will be visible above the construction fence!
At the end of June, Cornell Drive was fully closed and the concrete and the asphalt roadway was removed. For the first time, it’s now possible to imagine the eventual connection between the Center’s campus and the Jackson Park lagoon. The entire east side of the campus will create rich habitats for birds and wildlife and will feature a brand new walking and bike path along the edge of the lagoon for visitors to enjoy.
July 3, 2023
We are proud of the progress made on the construction of the Obama Presidential Center. At the Museum Building, the elevator and stairwell concrete work has reached the third floor of the Museum Exhibit Galleries where visitors will get a taste of life in the White House and where they can experience a full-scale replica of the Oval Office as it was during the Obama Administration!
The street level concrete floor slabs for the Forum and Library Buildings are mostly in place and the outside walls of those buildings are currently being framed and poured.
The construction team has installed a hoist to aid the movement of tradespeople and materials up and down the Museum Building. We also expect the City of Chicago to fully close Cornell Drive along the eastern side of the site so that crews can begin work of reclaiming that six-lane road back into green space.
At the end of June, progress towards ambitious workforce and business diversity goals for construction reflected the following:
May 5, 2023
Construction crews continue to make great progress on the Obama Presidential Center. At the Museum building, concrete work continues on the elevator and stair cores and the exterior walls as crews make progress upwards floor by floor. When complete, the Museum will be a total of 8 floors with a complete height of approximately 225 feet. Work on the Museum building has also reached an exciting milestone with the placement of the street level deck to form the concrete floor at this level.
Concrete work continues at the Forum and Library buildings as crews work to complete the street level floor slabs for each. Street level walls in these buildings are also starting to be formed. Minor work in the underground parking garage progresses as major structural work in the garage has been completed. Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing trades continue to install systems across the campus.
At the end of March, progress towards ambitious workforce and business diversity goals for construction reflected the following:
April 14, 2023
Obama Foundation Construction crews continue to make progress on the Obama Presidential Center. We are thrilled to reach a new milestone in its construction: The southernmost of the three cranes is now being disassembled, as the major structural work on the underground parking garage is complete!
At the Museum Building, the construction of elevator and stair cores and the exterior walls continues to climb upward and work is now visible from outside the construction fence. The concrete is piped up from the ground through special machinery which is now visible atop the highest floor. The Museum Building will ultimately be 225 feet tall, which is approximately the height of the apex of the construction crane.
Crews are also placing overhead mechanical systems throughout the lower level of the buildings and work continues in the major mechanical rooms. Structural concrete work continues in the Forum and Library buildings and the support deck for the street level concrete floor of the Forum Building is nearly complete. That will pave the way for workers to begin pouring the street level floor slab.
March 14, 2023 Obama Foundation
The floor slab on the underground level of the Forum and Library Buildings is almost completely poured and work has begun to build the support deck for the street level floor of the Forum Building. Floor slabs for both levels of the two-story parking garage have also been poured and the roof at the northern end of the garage has also been installed.
As the Center continues to take shape, we are thrilled to reach a new milestone in its construction: There are now spaces in the Forum and Library where other construction trade work can begin! In the lower level of the parking garage, piping from the geothermal wells that were drilled at the start of construction are being extended and collected together in a set of “manifolds” that will support all of the Center’s heating and cooling equipment.
Additionally, at the northeast corner of the underground level of the Museum Building, one of two major mechanical rooms that will serve the building is now being built.
March 14, 2023 Obama Foundation
At the end of January, progress towards ambitious workforce and business diversity goals for construction reflected the following:
January 26, 2023 Lakeside Alliance
Today, the Lakeside Alliance, builder of the Obama Presidential Center, released its 2022 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Report Opens in a new tab. Read the report to see how the Obama Foundation and the Alliance are working together to transform construction in Chicago and beyond.
January 18, 2023 Obama Foundation
Construction at the Obama Presidential Center has picked up considerably since the holidays, aided by the unseasonably mild weather. Concrete floors, columns, and walls are being poured at the Museum, Forum, and Library buildings. The elevator and stairwells can now be seen rising above the construction fence surrounding the site, rising up to around the fourth level, which is one of the Museum exhibit floors.
Additionally, both levels of the underground parking garage have been completed toward the south end of the campus. Work is still being done on the outside walls of the garage and upper level columns will be installed to support the roof of the structure in the Spring. The garage roof will eventually be covered by the Great Lawn—set to be the best sledding hill on the South Side.
January 6, 2023 Obama Foundation
At the end of 2022, progress towards ambitious workforce and business diversity goals for construction reflected the following:
September 30, 2022 Obama Foundation
The Foundation is committed to staying on track to meet its ambitious workforce and business diversity goals for construction. Highlights for the month include:
September 28, 2022 Obama Foundation
As construction of the Obama Presidential Center enters its second year, the focus is almost entirely on concrete. At the Museum Building, the northern elevator core is poured up through the plaza level and is framed up through to the lobby mezzanine, which represents the first element of the project that can be seen “out of the ground”. The southern elevator core at the Museum Building is also now poured up through the plaza level.
Elsewhere at the Museum Building, a majority of the perimeter walls are now cast up to the plaza level and preparations are being made for some of the first slab-on-grade pours at the garden level.
At the Forum and Library buildings, most of the grade beams and sub-grade perimeter walls have been cast.
Both levels of the parking garage have been formed up and approximately half of the lower level slab on grade has already been poured.
Update from CDOT
Construction continues on the planned transportation improvements in and around Jackson Park, with crews making great progress on DuSable Lake Shore Drive, Hayes Drive, and Stony Island Avenue.
Please note the following upcoming traffic changes: Starting on or after October 3rd and lasting approximately three weeks, a temporary configuration will go into place to allow for advance work in preparation for construction of two new pedestrian underpasses at the reconfigured intersection of Hayes Drive and Cornell Drive:
A long-term closure of Hayes Drive east of Cornell Drive will also go into place on October 3rd. Local access to Park District facilities will be maintained via Richards Drive.
Drivers are urged to pay close attention to flaggers and construction signage when entering and driving through work zones, obey the posted speed limits, and be on the alert for workers and equipment.
August 24, 2022 Obama Foundation
The Foundation is proud to release its first OPC construction workforce report highlighting that the organization is on track to meet its ambitious workforce and business diversity goals for construction. Highlights from the report include the following statistics to date:
To maintain transparency throughout the construction of the OPC, the Foundation will share an updated version of this report once a quarter.
July 28, 2022 Obama Foundation
The majority of columns for the lower level of the two-story parking garage structure have been cast and construction of the concrete perimeter walls on the lower level is nearly complete. Further north on the site, deep within the large steel basin that provides protection for the future OPC buildings against the surrounding groundwater, concrete work continues. Within the Museum Building footprint, some perimeter walls have been cast, and the first architectural concrete pours (for elements that will actually be exposed to view in the finished building) are being readied for next week. Unlike the parking garage, which is more conventional, the structural demands and the complex systems infrastructure of the Museum Building require an unbelievable amount of steel reinforcement (or rebar) within the concrete, and detailed and careful coordination between the placement of that rebar and the various conduits and pipes that are either set in, or need to pass through, these walls. Concrete work has also just begun on the Forum Building, with the forming and first pours of several of that building’s grade beams.
Concrete operations have also begun on the Museum building along the perimeter and the first architectural concrete pours for elements that will be visible in the finished building are being prepared.At the Forum Building, Concrete work has begun, with the forming and first pours of several of that building’s grade beams.
June 24, 2022 Obama Foundation
During a recent trip to Chicago, President Obama stopped by the construction site in Jackson Park to see the latest developments. While there, he took a tour of the site and met some of the talented tradespeople who are bringing the Center to life.
May 17, 2022 Obama Foundation
Mass excavation and earth retention is complete and the focus is now squarely on concrete operations.
At the underground, two-level parking garage, which is a more straight-forward structure, work has advanced rapidly. Almost 33% of the garage’s perimeter walls have already been formed, and much of those walls have already been poured:
Part of the goals for the OPC’s design was to try and minimize the visual impact of the Center within Jackson Park. In addition to the fully underground garage, almost one-third of the Center’s occupiable area is below-gradel, with a series of courtyards to bring natural light into these spaces. What that means from a construction standpoint is that there is a lot of work “in the ground” before the Center’s buildings become visible. Currently, crews are working at a depth of approximately 20 feet below street level to ready the two Museum Building “cores”, which are the areas where that building’s stairs, elevators and mechanical/electric shafts will run up the height of the building:
April 13, 2022 Chicago Department of Transportation
The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) today announced that major work in and near Jackson Park in support of the Obama Presidential Center’s planned opening will begin on April 14, 2022 on Southbound DuSable Lake Shore Drive at 57th Street and other adjacent streets. Southbound DLSD will be narrowed to one lane so construction to expand the roadway to three lanes can begin. The expanded roadway is expected to be completed by traffic patterns and work zones will shift several times over the next year. By late 2023, the new 3rd travel lane on SB DLSD will be complete and opened to traffic.
There will be daytime closures of lanes and parking restrictions on northbound Stony Island, beginning the week of April 18. Hayes Drive will be closed just west of DuSable Lake Shore Drive to allow for site testing beginning on or after April 25.
In case of traffic backups a good alternative route is to exit southbound DLSD at 57th Street and turn onto Cornell Drive which will not be under construction.
Access to Park District fields will be maintained throughout the construction. Visit the Department of Transportation for more information Opens in a new tab.
April 8, 2022 Obama Foundation
Mass excavation and dewatering continues at the area where the Museum, Forum, Library, and Garage will be built. This mass excavation operation is approximately 25 percent complete and is expected to be fully completed at the end of May, pending rain delays.
This week, the concrete pad was installed and a tower crane was moved onsite to facilitate the construction of the Garage. Over the next two weeks, an additional tower crane will be used to construct the Museum Building.
Construction of a trailer village is underway at the southwest corner of the site, across from Hyde Park Academy. The trailers will provide office, meeting, and other onsite support space for the growing project workforce and various consultants. The village will be completed in May.
March 25, 2022 Obama Foundation
Earth retention system work has been completed at the Obama Presidential Center site, creating a metal perimeter around the subterranean level of the main buildings and parking garage that will prevent water from infiltrating the buildings. Dewatering continues, draining groundwater from within the footprint of the Museum, Forum, Library and Garage. Mass excavation also began this week, which will create fairly constant movement of trucks in and out of the site on the Cornell Drive side, for the next several weeks.
March 4, 2022 Obama Foundation
The steel sheeting seen below extends 30-35 feet into a thick clay layer beneath the construction site to form the sides of a basin-like structure that will protect the buildings and Garage from the surrounding groundwater. Groundwater captured in the basin will begin, along with the mass excavation of the dirt in this area to allow for pouring the lowest level concrete caisson caps, grade beams, and floor slabs later this Spring.
February 18, 2022 Chicago Department of Transportation
The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is starting construction on long planned transportation improvements in and around Jackson Park coordinated with the Obama Presidential Center and supportive of the Chicago Park District’s South Lakefront Framework Plan.
Starting next week, weather permitting, motorists can expect daily off-peak lane closures for site preparation work on Stony Island Avenue, Hayes Drive, and South DuSable Lake Shore Drive. This will continue through mid-March.
Starting in mid-March, reconstruction work will start on Hayes Drive between Cornell Drive and Richards Drive. The public can expect parking restrictions, lane shifts, and detours of pedestrian paths.
Drivers are urged to pay close attention to flaggers and construction signage when entering and driving through work zones, to please obey the posted speed limits, and to be on the alert for workers and equipment as well as pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists.
February 18, 2022 Obama Foundation
Work to construct caissons to support the buildings and garage at the Obama Presidential Center is completed. Sheeting that will protect the subterranean levels of the Museum, Forum, and Library buildings is ahead of schedule.
Earth retention work remains on track as the site is readied for dewatering and mass excavation that is scheduled to begin in March.
February 7, 2022 Obama Foundation
Progress on constructing the Obama Presidential Center continues with relatively few inclement weather delays. By the end of the week, all of the caissons will be drilled. Installation of sheeting all around the Museum, Forum, Library, and Garage structures is almost 50 percent complete. Work has begun to stabilize that sheeting and dewater the area within the sheeting, and the site is being readied for mass excavation which will become the foundation for the Museum, Forum, Library, and Garage structures. In March, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is slated to begin a major investment to modernize and expand several roadways in and around Jackson Park, including areas surrounding the Center.
January 14, 2022 Obama Foundation
Construction is complete on caissons to support the underground parking garage. Meanwhile, construction of caissons for the Museum, Forum, and Library buildings continues and, as of today, they are approximately 45 percent complete.
Drilling for geothermal wells is nearly complete, and work to connect the wells through a series of lateral ducts is about a third of the way finished. Late next week, work will begin on earth retention and sheeting, which is the process of protecting the building foundations from water and pressure from nearby Lake Michigan and the Lagoon.
January 5, 2022 Obama Foundation Update
The construction of the Obama Presidential Center rang in the new year by continuing to make progress with the drilling of caissons and other below-grade work. All of the future underground garage caissons are complete, and work on the future Museum Building’s caissons is underway. Earth retention work is planned to start in the next week or so, and the number of construction workers being employed is steadily increasing to a current daily average of approximately 75 persons working on the site in some capacity every work day. To date, more than 40 percent of the total worker hours expended to help build the Obama Presidential Center have been performed by residents of the South and West Sides of Chicago.
December 13, 2021 Obama Foundation Update
This week, drilling began for the first caissons that will support the underground parking garage. Caissons are a network of underground concrete pilings that support structures—in this case, the Obama Presidential Center campus! Preparatory work also began for the caissons that will support the Museum Building. Drilling for those caissons will begin this Monday, December 13.
Drilling and installation of geothermal energy wells continues on schedule.
October 26, 2021 Obama Foundation Update The Foundation will host a community engagement event for People with Disabilities. This event will bring members of the disabilities community up to speed on the current approach to inclusive design in the museum exhibits, share initial thinking around accessibility affordances within the museum experience, and highlight some of the work yet to come.
October 25, 2021 Obama Foundation Update
This week, truckloads of dirt will continue to be hauled off. On the lagoon and Midway Plaisance sides of the site, new asphalt walking paths have been poured to allow for safe walking and biking around the perimeter of the site.
The following activities are also set to begin this week:
September 28, 2021 Obama Foundation Update
The Obama Foundation officially broke ground on site. Mayor Lightfoot and Governor Pritzker joined President and Mrs. Obama for the ceremony, each sharing remarks about the project and the positive impact it will have on the surrounding neighborhoods. Learn more here.
August 16, 2021 Obama Foundation Update
The Obama Foundation officially begins work on the Obama Presidential Center after a years-long planning and review process. Roadway improvements will continue and construction will begin within the 19.3 acre site of the Center that sits within the 550 acre Jackson Park.
Starting this morning, Cornell Drive will begin to be narrowed from six lanes to four lanes between 59th Street and Hayes Drive. At the same time, the easternmost block of South Midway Plaisance, between Stony Island Avenue and Cornell Drive, will be permanently closed.
Motorists that previously used South Midway Plaisance to connect to Cornell Drive will be directed to an alternate route. For northbound motorists, from August 16 to no later than September 2, drivers will need to turn left and go north on Stony Island Avenue and continue up to 57th Street, then turn right on 57th Street to connect up to Cornell Drive and, if desired, continue up to DuSable Lake Shore Drive. Starting no later than September 2, those drivers will still need to turn left and go north on Stony Island Avenue, but only to North Midway Plaisance.
The long-term traffic plan for this area is for North Midway Plaisance to be converted to two-way traffic, and eastbound motorists will then be able to drive “up” North Midway Plaisance from Stony Island Avenue to Cornell Drive. There will be a new signalized intersection at North Midway Plaisance and Cornell Drive.
Ultimately, these new traffic configurations will create better pedestrian connections between the adjacent community, Jackson Park and the lakefront, and better connect currently separated areas of Jackson Park to one another.
CDOT suggests motorists consider the following alternate routes:
For traffic heading to northbound DuSable Lake Shore Drive:
For traffic heading southbound:
June 28, 2021 Obama Foundation Update
Beginning today, Cornell Drive will be reduced to 2 lanes in each direction. One southbound lane has been closed, and one northbound lane will be closed later in the day.
This activity marks the start of 6-7 weeks of preparatory work to remove the existing median on Cornell Drive and install a new one.