CONSTRUCTION UPDATES

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.

June 24, 20222
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 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.

Black tubes are shown laying in bundles on dirt with a crane in the background.

Two construction workers wearing construction hats and neon yellow vests are in trenches with their chests and heads visible.

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:

  • The site is being rough-graded, with excess topsoil being hauled off through the first week of November, in preparation for the start of below-grade works.
  • In an effort to create an energy-efficient and sustainable campus, the Obama Presidential Center will be powered by geothermal heating and cooling. The system is built upon a network of very deep wells called caissons. Drilling will begin on November 1.

A dark asphalt-paved bike and walking trail is shown in the middle with orange construction fencing on either side of it. The construction site for the Obama Presidential Center is shown through the links in a metal fence.

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.

President and Mrs. Obama, Mayor Lightfoot, and Governor Pritzker shovel dirt out of the ground.

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:

  • 55th Street/Garfield Boulevard to the Dan Ryan/I-90/94 and northbound to I-55 and eastbound to northbound DuSable Lake Shore Drive
  • Cottage Grove to 47th Street and eastbound to northbound DuSable Lake Shore Drive

For traffic heading southbound:

  • 55th Street/Garfield Boulevard to the southbound Dan Ryan/I-90/94
  • 63rd Street eastbound to Hayes Drive and southbound on either Stony Island or South Shore Drive

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.

Construction workers work on Cornell Drive on the South Side of Chicago.

The Foundation is carrying out this construction activity with Lakeside Alliance, who has subcontracted work to Certified Minority-Owned (MBE), Women-Owned (WBE), and Disadvantaged (DBE) electrical company City Lights. This work has been approved and permitted by the Chicago Department of Transportation.

A group of construction workers wearing yellow shirts and white hardhats gather.


June 8, 2021
Chicago Park District Update
Construction work has begun on the utility crossing at Stony Island Avenue between the eastbound and westbound Midway Plaisance Drives.

The northbound curb lane of Cornell Drive and the pedestrian sidewalk east of Cornell Drive is also closed to allow for the utility work.

Utility lines are shown being placed into the ground.

Utility lines are shown being placed into the ground.

The installation of the sanitary sewer across Cornell Drive and at the lift station is anticipated to begin this week.

The track and field work is advancing with the installation of the artificial turf. The turf carpet was installed last week and they are moving on to the installation of the infill material.

A football field is shown from the end zone area.

A football field with the Chicago Bears logo is shown at the 50-yard line.

Check out a complete description of the work being completed in Jackson Park, including lane closures, utility work, and more from the Chicago Park District.


May 24, 2021
Chicago Park District Update
Construction work on eastbound Midway Plaisance Drive will continue this week for the contractor to complete roadway restoration at the location of the utility crossing.

The northbound curb lane of Cornell Drive is now closed in order to allow for the utility work. Additional lane closures have begun on Cornell Drive this week to allow for the utility crossing.

See more updates here.


May 11, 2021
Chicago Park District Update
Construction work on eastbound Midway Plaisance Drive will continue this week with utility work crossing all lanes of eastbound Midway Plaisance, just west of Stony Island Avenue. Utility work is also anticipated to begin crossing Cornell Drive the week of May 17.

See more updates here.


April 27, 2021
Chicago Park District Update
Construction work on eastbound Midway Plaisance Drive and Stony Island Avenue began this week. This is a moving operation with construction flaggers and rolling lane closures.

Upcoming Lane Closures
Midway Plaisance Drive (Eastbound) – Lane closures projected to begin today, and last for approximately one week.

Stony Island Avenue– Lane closures projected to begin on May 10, for approximately one and a half weeks.

See more updates here.


March 16, 2021
Chicago Park District Update
This spring, the Chicago Park District will begin utility relocation work and resume track and field work in Jackson Park. The utility work includes relocating an electrical line, a sewer line and a water line below-ground between Midway and Hayes.

The utility relocation work will occur alongside streets or sidewalks around the edges of the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) site, or south of the OPC site. The existing track and field on that site will remain available for use.

The Park District also has partially completed a new track and field project at the corner of Stony Island and Hayes. As the site has been sitting dormant since 2018, we need to review the current site condition and determine if remedial work is needed prior to completing the full scope of work.

The target start date for commencing both the utility work and the track and field work is April 1st, weather permitting. However, as early as Wednesday, March 17th, residents may see staff and contractors out on these sites so that they can assess the sites and prepare for the upcoming work.

See more updates here.


February 3, 2021
Obama Foundation Update
Obama Presidential Center groundbreaking announced for 2021 as multi-year federal review process concludes. Read more.

Take a closer look at the federal regulatory review process for Jackson Park improvements from the Department of Planning and Development, which also includes a calendar of federal review milestones.

CONSTRUCTION CAREERS

The Obama Foundation helped create the We Can Build It consortium to get more Chicagoans involved in the building trades, especially residents on the South and West Sides. We Can Build It is currently recruiting Chicago-area residents to train for careers in construction, working on the Obama Presidential Center or other projects across the city. 

Work in construction

If you or someone you know would like to be considered for a career in construction, get started here.

Learn more about our workforce initiative

Explore the Obama Presidential Workforce Initiative.

SUBCONTRACT WITH THE OBAMA FOUNDATION

The Lakeside Alliance is leading the construction of the Obama Presidential Center and brings together four of the largest, most respected African-American-owned firms in Chicago, with one of the largest construction management firms in the US. Currently, they are managing subcontractors for the project.

Subcontract with the Center

If you would like to bid on the construction of the Obama Presidential Center, share more information with the Lakeside Alliance.

Offer other services

If you would like to offer other services to the Obama Presidential Center, tell us more about your work.

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