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Chicago Tribune Says 11 "High Caliber" Architects Asked to Submit Qualifications for Obama Library

The University of Chicago's two proposed sites. Image ©
The University of Chicago's two proposed sites. Image ©

Update: The Chicago Tribune's architecture critic Blair Kamin has now reported that 140 architects from 60 cities have expressed their interest in designing the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Chicago by submitting qualifications. Of these, 99 are based in the United States, although names have not been released. The below article, originally published on September 1st, lists 11 architects that Kamin was able to confirm had been invited to submit qualifications by the Barack Obama Foundation.

Last week, it was reported that the Barack Obama Foundation was searching globally for an architect to design Obama's Presidential Library and Museum (officially known as the Barack Obama Presidential Center). With the list of invited candidates for Obama's Presidential Center still a closely-guarded secret, though, the Chicago Tribune's architecture critic Blair Kamin has turned investigator, uncovering a list of 11 firms among the "fifty or more" which are believed to have been invited. Kamin states that the 11 firms he has confirmed to be in the running are "A) Of high caliber; B) Represent a broad geographic and aesthetic spectrum; and C) Include the established firms one would expect to be invited."

Obama Awards Everett Fly with National Humanities Medal

US President Barack Obama has awarded San Antonio architect and landscape architect Everett Fly with the 2014 National Humanities Medal. Harvard GSD's first African-American graduate, Fly is being recognized for his work in "preserving the integrity of African-American places and landmarks." 

Obama to Cast Global Search for Chicago Presidential Center Architect

In May, the University of Chicago was selected to host the Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum. Now referred to as the Barack Obama Presidential Center, the building's task force is expected to cast a global call in search of an architect. As the Chicago Tribune reports, officials sent a request for qualifications to a select group of architects yesterday, although others are welcome to submit. All those interested must send their credentials by September 16. 

"The foundation and its advisers wanted to present the president and first lady with a strong and broad list of options," a foundation spokeswoman told the Chicago Tribune. "We are looking at architects who represent a broad range of approaches and styles, but who all have a position of eminence within the architecture profession and have achieved some degree of public recognition."

Poll: Who Will Design Obama's Presidential Library and Museum?

On Tuesday, the Barack Obama Foundation is expected to officially announce its decision to build Obama's presidential library and museum in Chicago. With two sites under consideration - Washington Park or Jackson Park - speculation has now shifted towards the architect. Who will design the  Presidential Library and Museum?

Will it be David Adjaye, the London-based, Tanzanian-born architect who designed the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture (which will complete next year)? Or how about one of the city's leading architects: Jeanne Gang, Helmut Jahn, Ralph Johnson or John Ronan? Perhaps it will be Philip Freelon; as the Chicago Tribune's Blair Kamin points out, Obama made a recent visit to a library he designed in Washington DC. Some are even considering Renzo Piano; Michelle Obama seemed to have a deep appreciation for his newly constructed Whitney Museum when she spoke at its dedication ceremony a few weeks back.

With all this to bear in mind, who do you think will design the  Presidential Library and Museum? Answer a poll after the break. 

University of Chicago Selected to Host Barack Obama Presidential Library

According to Forbes, the University of Chicago has been selected to be the official home of the Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum. The proposal, selected over sites at Columbia University, the University of Hawaii, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, will be built in the city's South Side Hyde Park, near a home owned by the Obamas. 

Controversy Shrouds Chicago's Plan for the Barack Obama Presidential Library

The competition to host the new Barack Obama Presidential Library has generated quite a stir, attracting proposals from cities across the United States with Chicago emerging as the current front runner. Amid the debate, that is expected to end with a decision later this month, a new controversy has surfaced on the coattails of the University of Chicago's speculative plan. The proposed concept involves a land transfer for the library to occupy one of two historic parks designed by iconic landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in the 1870s. Read more about the heated debate over using public parkland to house the library, here.

The Chicago Prize Highlights Two Speculative Proposals for Obama's Presidential Library

The Chicago Architectural Club (CAC) has revealed the winners of its fourteenth annual Chicago Prize Competition - The Barack Obama Presidential Library - following Chicago's recent selection as one of three cities being considered to host the presidential library

Inspiring designs across the United States, the winning entries aimed to envision a library that could both recognize the President by displaying a collection of mementos from his life and provide the basis for community programs. Contestants were asked to consider the building's context within the city of Chicago to generate a speculative proposal that not only fosters learning and exploration, but also inspires public discussion. To further encourage creativity, the library's program was unspecified, allowing participants to decide how to incorporate these civic and educational elements in their designs. 

Ultimately, a distinguished panel selected two winners and three honorable mentions emerged from the competition. The winning proposals and honorable mentions are as follows:

Four Presidential Libraries for Obama to Consider

Of the four locations that are under consideration to host the future Barack Obama presidential library, two have released visions of what could be if their sites were selected - the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and the University of Hawaii at Honolulu (UH). UH, who’s offering a stunning oceanside site on Waikiki Beach, paired Snøhetta, MOS, and Allied Works Architecture with local architects to draw up proposals, all of which share a deep connection to nature. UIC, on the other hand, has proposed an idea that reinterprets the library as a systemized network of public infrastructure focused on revitalization. 

View all four proposals, after the break.

University of Illinois at Chicago. Image Courtesy of UIC Snøhetta and WCIT Architecture at UH. Image Courtesy of UIC Allied Works Architecture at UH. Image Courtesy of UIC MOS and Workshop-HI at UH. Image Courtesy of UIC

Call for Entries: Design the Barack Obama Presidential Library

Calling all architects and students, the Chicago Architectural Club (CAC) wants to see your ideas for The Barack Obama Presidential Library. The recent media coverage surrounding the announced library, drawing bids from New York, Honolulu, and Chicago, once again initiates the desire for speculations and projections. As the fourteenth of its kind, this civic institution will not only function to house a collection of artifacts and documents relating to the president’s life but will also provide an educational infrastructure and framework for outreach and community programs. Thus, in partnership with the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF), this year’s Chicago Prize Competition is calling for speculative proposals for the Barack Obama Presidential Library to initiate a debate in order to rethink and redefine this particular building typology.

What Should Obama's Presidential Library Look Like?

Barack Obama still has two years left in his presidency, but speculative planning for his Presidential Library has already begun for each of the four possible final locations. Just as the election of President Obama broke down historical precedents for who could hold office, could the design of his dedication library represent an architectural shift from previous libraries? This article by Lilah Raptopoulos from The Guardian presents four unofficial visions for the design of the new library, each of them from award-winning architects. Their bold design sketches expand our perceptions of what a presidential library could be, and explore new ways in which these libraries could serve their communities. See all four designs and read the full article from The Guardian entitled, “Obama's presidential library: four radical visions of the future from top architects.”

Obama Shortlists Four Potential Sites for Presidential Library

The Barack Obama Foundation has listed four potential sites for Obama’s presidential library and museum: Columbia University, the University of Hawaii, the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the Universities considered were selected for demonstrating the ability to develop a strong vision and design a library that could enhance the local economy. Each institution will now work towards refining their ideas and will submit formal proposals by December.

Michael Sorkin Sites Future Obama Presidential Library in Chicago's South Side

Bidding for the future home of Barack Obama's Presidential Library is underway with three locations claiming the chief executive as their own. Obama's birthplace, Hawaii, has mounted a campaign in pursuit of their native son, followed by New York City's Columbia University, where he received his bachelor's degree in political science. Architect and urbanist Michael Sorkin believes it is the Windy City, however, his adopted hometown, that will ultimately win the presidential library bid.

Obama Appoints Michael Graves to Key Administration Post

© Michael Graves & Associates
© Michael Graves & Associates

Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to appoint five individuals to key Administration posts, including architecture’s very own Michael Graves, stating: “These fine public servants both bring a depth of experience and tremendous dedication to their new roles.  Our nation will be well-served by these individuals, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”

The five individuals include: 

  • Vinton G. Cerf - Member, National Science Board, National Science Foundation
  • Marta Araoz de la Torre - Member, Cultural Property Advisory Committee
  • Michael Graves - Member, Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board
  • Laurie Leshin - Member, Advisory Board of the National Air and Space Museum
  • Lynne Sebastian - Member, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

The Design Implications of President Obama's Commitment to Climate Change and Sustainable Energy

January 21, 2013, Inaugural Speech; Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson
January 21, 2013, Inaugural Speech; Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

This past Monday, President Obama made climate change and sustainable energy the focal points of his Inaugural Address when he declared that choosing to ignore these key environmental issues "would betray our children and future generations." This is the first time in the last few months that the President has taken a firm stand for the future of our Earth, a direct result of Super Storm Sandy and a smart choice to reveal controversial policies only after re-election. Although Monday morning was not the time to outline a specific political strategy, President Obama made it very clear that this time around, denial of scientific judgment and Congressional opposition would not be reasons for failure to act.

While this is a sentiment easier said than done and there is doubtlessly a long and difficult road ahead for the President and his administration. The White House has revealed that it plans to focus on what it can do to capitalize on natural gas production as an alternative to coal, on "reducing emissions from power plants, [increasing] the efficiency of home appliances and [on having] the federal government itself produce less carbon pollution" (NYTimes). According to the New York Times, they aim to adopt new energy efficiency standards for not only home appliances but for buildings as well, something that should spark the interests of architects and urban planners already committed to designing with climate change and sustainable energy in mind.

More after the break...

Obama speaks at the ground breaking ceremony for the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Freelon Adjaye Bond/Smith Group
Freelon Adjaye Bond/Smith Group

President Obama attended the official ground breaking ceremony of the National Museum for African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) on February 22, commemorating this milestone for the Smithsonian Institution’s new museum on Washington’s National Mall. The Tanzanian-born, London-based architect David Adjaye serves as Lead Designer for the Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup (FAB) team that was selected by the Smithsonian Institute back in 2009 in the international competition for the design of the nation’s new prestigious building.

The President began his brief remarks by stating, “As others have mentioned, this day has been a long time coming. The idea for a museum dedicated to African Americans was first put forward by black veterans of the Civil War. And years later, the call was picked up by members of the civil rights generation -– by men and women who knew how to fight for what was right and strive for what is just. This is their day. This is your day. It’s an honor to be here to see the fruit of your labor.”

Continue reading for more information on the project and a video of President Obama’s speech.

Obama Appoints Architect Phil Freelon to US Commission of Fine Arts

On the first of December, President Obama announced his appointment of Philip G. Freelon, FAIA to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. The Commission is composed of seven fine art experts and is obligated to give “expert advice to the President, Congress and the heads of departments and agencies of the Federal and District of Columbia governments on matters of design and aesthetics, as they affect the Federal interest and preserve the dignity of the nation’s capital.” The Commission is also responsible to advise the U.S. Mint on the design of coins and medals, and approves the location and design of national memorials, both within the U.S. and around the World.

Obama wanted to be an architect (thanks he didn´t)

Did you know that Barack Obama wanted to be an architect? Thank god he didn´t, otherwise he wouldn´t be assuming as the US President tomorrow.