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Construction update: The Obama Presidential Center takes shape

A low angle shot shows workers on an orange basket lift affixing a panel of “Tapestry” stone to the lower west face of the Museum Building. A cloudy sunny sky is in the background.

With the Museum Building nearing completion, our commitment to uplifting the South and West Sides of Chicago shines brighter than ever.

On the exterior of the Museum Building, workers are installing stone. The concrete work has reached the highest public level of the building, where visitors will eventually go to the Sky Room. Everything is going according to plan, and next month, the Museum building will reach its full height! Inside, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and drywall work continues. Workers are installing the steel frames for large windows that will eventually be clad in bronze.

A scissor lift reaches up to support unseen workers who are installing the black steel frame for a three-story window that will look out into one of the Museum courtyards. Other trades are busy at the eastern side of the site near the lagoon, creating a special base using geofoam for the new landscape. This elevated area will offer visitors expansive views of Jackson Park, including the Wooded Island and the Museum of Science & Industry.

Construction progress is visible across different areas of the site. At the Forum Building, workers are still putting up exterior stone, while inside, they are shaping the terraced floors of the Auditorium. The Forum will house the Hadiya Pendleton Winter Garden and the Elie Wiesel Auditorium. It will also have a recording studio, programming rooms, and a restaurant for visitors to enjoy.

Workers wearing bright safety vests walk on large white blocks of geofoam that will form the base of the playground and great lawn. In the foreground, large metal construction implements are strewn about and a green and white golf cart sits to one side.
An aerial view of the South West corner of the Museum Building, the Forum, and part of the Library Building rooftops. Construction materials can be seen covering the landscape.

The new Chicago Public Library branch will offer interactive digital media spaces and amenities for children, informational and vocational resources for adults, and a reading room for all to enjoy. At the Library Building, workers are starting to work on the new Chicago Public Library and its Reading Courtyard. On the Library rooftop, workers poured the concrete walls and roof for the Fruit & Vegetable Garden Pavilion, which will include a teaching kitchen and public restrooms. The Fruit & Vegetable Garden will be a place where young people and community members can get their hands dirty and learn about growing sustainable food. 

Nearby, two new picnic areas are being set up. At the south end of the site, construction of the Center’s Home Court is in full swing. Our Home Court is a 45,000 square foot multipurpose space featuring a state-of-the-art gymnasium and wellness studios. It will serve as a venue for a variety of youth and adult programming, professional conferences, and community events.

Workers have already installed support caissons, and are now working on sheeting around the building's perimeter to prepare for excavation. Once the area is drained, they'll start digging out the lower level of the building.

Learn more about the Obama Presidential Center:

A rendering of the outside  front of Home Court  from Stony Island Avenue. It is daylight in the picture. Home Court at the Obama Presidential Center is a large silver and glass building, with large rectangular windows covering the majority of the front of the building and two large inverted silver triangles of metal cladding interrupting the glass on the side. In front of the building are green shrubs and trees planted along a pedestrian walkway. To the left of the building is a large patch of grass surrounded by a pedestrian walkway. To the right of the building are tall green trees. On the pedestrian pathways are several people walking, standing, and sitting. There is a bicycle rack on the pedestrian walkway.
  • First Look
  • Building the Center

See the plans for the 45,000-square-foot multipurpose athletic and events facility coming to the Obama Presidential Center.

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Crystal Moten, PhD, a Black woman with brown locs and a medium deep skin tone, smiles at the camera. She is wearing an orange blouse, blue beaded necklace, and red lipstick. In the background is a plant and gray curtain
  • Building the Center
  • Chicago

Meet the women behind the Obama Presidential Center

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