Preservationists’ issues with new Obama Presidential Center continues

Debate over design, location persists

New York Weekend Edition /
Jan.January 13, 2018 05:39 PM

(Credit: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

As Barack and Michelle Obama continue to develop the design of the Obama Presidential Center, they have been running into opposition from preservationists.

The center located in Jackson Park on the Chicago’s South Side is meant to serve as hub for resources, cultural programs and education that is meant to turn the area into an “economic engine.”

The first big stumbling block was the parking garage, which they have now decided to literally bury to appease concerns, but now the release of the center’s conceptual model is creating controversy.

Releasing the plan along with a video (watch below), the new issue is the height of the center’s tower which went from a maximum of 180 feet to 225 feet.

The main issue, however, really can’t be solved by design necessarily, which is that the center’s location is within Jackson Park, a designated historic place, that preservationists don’t want to see change.

“The people of Chicago were told they would get a presidential library administered by the National Archives, a federal facility, in exchange for the confiscation of historic parkland, listed in the National Register of Historic Places,” said The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s president and CEO Charles A. Birnbaum in a statement.

“Instead, they’re getting a privately-operated entertainment campus with a 235-foot-tall tower, a recording studio, auditorium, sports facility, and other amenities,” his statement continues.

The Obamas’ response:

The design will ultimately be subject to a federal review. [Architect’s Newspaper] — Erin Hudson


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