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Call for Submissions: Obama Presidential Center

  • 10:30 - 21 April, 2016
Call for Submissions: Obama Presidential Center
Call for Submissions: Obama Presidential Center

“The Obama Presidential Center will bring to life the vision and legacy of President Obama, including inspiring an ethic of citizenship, expanding opportunity in a global age, and promoting peace, justice, and dignity throughout the world.” (Source: Obama Foundation)

This competition challenges designers to create an exceptional presidential library for U.S. President Obama (OPL). We look for design proposals with wide reaching architectural interventions that deal with the challenging South Side of Chicago, and make a case for a sustainable urban and economic growth. There are currently two potential site locations – one on the east side and the other on the west side of the University of Chicago (see p1.jpg): The Washington Park site and Jackson Park site. You are asked to make a choice between the two sites. There were numerous alter-native site proposals, e.g. sites in New York, Hawaii, Chicago etc. The Obama Foundation has identified these two properties as the ones with the most potential, based on key assumptions, opportunities and limitations relative to their contexts.

This is a sponsored solicitation of visionary design approaches for the OPL, underwritten by Arcbazar, Builtworlds, GreenApple Campus, Forum8, AIA Chicago and Autodesk, and seeks the expertise and creativity of the global design and planning community to bring a shared vision for the chosen site to life.

To move closer to a design solution that meets the needs of multiple stakeholders, e.g. the Obama Foundation, the City of Chicago, the University of Chicago, the citizens of the South Side of Chicago, we propose this “Design Competition” for designers all around the globe. The competition is intended to solicit design concepts for the OPL that are aesthetically pleasing, pedestrian-oriented, sensitive to neighborhood context, and attractive to the Obama Foundation and to the other stakeholders. The rough building program is provided below; however, each participant is welcome to change/adjust the program as needed based on their own research of opportunities, of comparable presidential libraries, or of customized needs and expectations of the Obama presidency itself.

“Seismic shifts in technology and communication should make the OPL the most connected, interactive Presidential Library in history. It will provide a global audience access to public records, information, and an expansive network of related knowledge and viewpoints.” (Source: RFP) Please review the Vision-Guidelines PDF document for more de-tails on the vision and guiding principles of the Obama Foundation.

Entrance Hall 7,900 sqf
The hall should be spacious and inviting, designed to draw people in from the main streets, and needs to be visually distinct from the surroundings. The entrance hall is where visitors first have contact with the OPL. The space and its functions must interact in order to create transparency and spark curiosity about what the center has to offer. The en-trance hall will serve as the central hub for public service functions. From here, visitors can access such functions as the information desk, admission counters, public toilets and the cloakroom.

Shop 2,750 sqf
Place it at an attractive and easily accessible position. There needs to be a separate back office area for staff and unpacking next to the shop. Access to storage without having to cross public spaces is desirable. The shop should be able to open/close independent of the center.

Back office 1,000 sqf
In close connection with entrance hall, back offices functions for security guards and guides, local storage for printed material, copying facilities, room for handling and counting, and emergency room.

Museum with Permanent and Temporary Exhibition Spaces 42,000sqf
It is important to design the exhibition facilities so they can be adapted to constant advances in exhibition technology. Available ceiling height should be at least 12’, with the ability to easily modify lighting and installations. Daylight is per-mitted but not required in the exhibition spaces. All exhibition spaces should have good transport connections to the loading area to facilitate receiving large exhibition items. Distribute local store rooms and equipment rooms throughout the exhibition area, while providing more significant storage needs closer to loading and logistics areas.

Public/Scholarly Library and Collections 6,800 sqf
The OPL library has to be easily accessible to visitors. The library is expected to have a wide target group and, in ad-dition to its book collection and other media, should also include study areas for concentrated reading.

Restaurant and Café 9,250 sqf
The restaurant needs to accommodate approximately 175 seated guests. It is important that the restaurant’s location in the building both corresponds to the high quality of the range of food to be served, is commercially attractive and is well-thought out from a logistical point of view. The restaurant should be able to be opened or closed independently of the center’s other operations.

A café with a more basic menu will be designed for about 100 seated guests. The café will also be used in connection with program activities related to exhibitions and this should be factored into the design. The café should also include a bar that can function as an evening venue, making the center an exciting place to visit and use until late at night. The bar is to provide direct access from the street but also connect to the central areas of the center. The café/bistro should provide a social platform for regular visitors to the center as well as an attractive environment for the visiting tourists or families.

The restaurant and café will share a kitchen, elevator and logistical functions.

Lobby Café
A semipublic, flexible, lobby café area capable of handling 300 guests should be located in or next to the lobby of the conference area.

Public Programming Facilities 9,550 sqf
The public programming facilities consists of two small, two medium and one large meeting, storage, and workshops.

Education Facilities 3,700 sqf
The educational facilities include classrooms, studio spaces, eating area, research rooms, and storage.

Auditorium/Oval Office 5,500 sqf
The auditorium should be designed as a distinguished space, primarily for orientations, projections, speeches but also to some extent for smaller events. It should be able to accommodate up to 500 seated guests.

Foundation and administrative offices 7,500 sqf
Modern open office space, quite rooms, restings rooms, meeting rooms, archival offices and meeting rooms.

Private and classified archives 13,900 sqf
Audio Visual lab, research and storage spaces, Document processing and storage spaces, Paint/ Storage, Cleaning and server rooms.

Private Residence 1,200 sqf
Loading, logistics, Storage 5,500 sqf
Parking/Utilities 43,000 sqf

Washington Park is a 372-acre park between Cottage Grove Avenue and Martin Luther King Drive, (originally known as "Grand Boulevard") located at 5531 S. Martin Luther King Dr. in the Washington Park community area on the South Side of Chicago in Cook County, Illinois. It was named for President George Washington in 1880. Washington Park is the largest of four Chicago Park District parks named after persons surnamed Washington (the others are Dinah Washington Park, Harold Washington Park and Washington Square Park, Chicago). This park was the pro-posed site of the Olympic Stadium and the Olympic swimming venue for Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. Washington Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 20, 2004.

Jackson Park is a 500-acre park on Chicago's South Side, located at 6401 South Stony Island Avenue in the Woodlawn community area. It extends into the South Shore and Hyde Park community areas, bordering Lake Michigan and several South Side neighborhoods. Named for President Andrew Jackson. (Source: Wikipedia)

See attached CAD drawing for the property borderlines of the two sites.

Designs shall:
a. be solely the result of the design effort of the designer; and
b. be unique original and not infringe upon any copyright or the rights of any person.

All submitted design proposals shall be evaluated by a team of 3-5 renowned architects on June, 16, 2016 in Chicago. Also the public should vote on project submissions and given the opportunity to provide comment on proposed de-signs. All designs shall be evaluated based on the criteria described below:

- Sensitivity of scale, massing, and design elements to neighborhood context – 40%
- Wider Urban Design of South side Chicago – 20%
- Quality of publicly-accessible open space and other amenities provided for in the use program and design – 20%
- Impact of design on neighborhood multimodal circulation system – 20%

The total award should be $10,000 in total and be distributed as such:
a. 1st Prize: $4,200
b. 2nd Prize: $2,100
c. 3rd Prize: $700
d. Voters’ Choice Award: $3,000
e. GreenApple Campus Student Award
f. Autodesk BIM Award

Local design teams are encouraged to visit the site.

February 9, 2016 Launch of Competition
May 31, 2016 Deadline for Design Submissions
June 16, 2016 Evaluation and Prize Ceremony in Chicago

i. Participation in design competition should consist of the following:
A. Registration to competition at website
B. Brief description of concept (recommended limit of 250 words)
C. Deliverables:
(1) Larger Urban Plan, 1:1000
(1) Siteplan, 1:400
(1) Site Section, 1:400
(x) Plan views, 1:200
(2) Section, 1:200
(4) Elevation, 1:200
(3) Perspective/Axonometric Views:
a. (1) exterior free perspective/axonometric views that best describe your design
b. (2) interior free perspective/axonometric views that best describe your design
D. Top submissions will be notified and will be required to submit a 3D model (*.3ds, *.fbx, *.dae, *.obj, or *.dxf ) of the library within its property lines – property lines should be included for registration purposes within larger model. Forum8 will provide Project VR technology to integrate the 3D models of Top submissions, and allow users to evaluate project through their UC-win/Road software. (You can download trial version at:
E. Each participating top designer or team, will be asked to upload a video (max.90sec) describing in person/team their design approach. These will be also used by users to understand the design project in more detail.
F. Top designers will be asked to be available online (through video conferencing) during award ceremony in Chicago on June 16th, 2016. Exact time will be given to top designers.

ii. All submissions should be uploaded on website. Submitted images shall not identify names of individuals, firms or organizations.

+ Arcbazar Labs supports cutting-edge design research into crowdsourcing and collective design intelligence to improve built environments all around the world.
+ is a collaborative network that fosters a smarter built environment and a better approach to creating and maintaining it. Its mission is to push the $5 trillion built industry forward.
+ GreenApple Campus is an educational not-for-profit organization that runs creative, challenging STEM, Innovation and Entrepreneurial programs for kids.
+ Forum8 Ltd., is a cutting-edge high-tech firm in Japan that develops interactive and web-based real-time 3D simulation and modeling technology.
+ Autodesk, Inc. is an American multinational software corporation that makes software for the architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, media, and entertainment industries.

Award recipients shall receive prizes on June 16, 2016. The selected designs shall be posted on Arcbazar’s website ( All Designers shall receive direct notification.

Phone inquiries shall not be returned. All questions will be answered on the project WALL. E-mails regarding questions that can be answered by reviewing this solicitation shall not receive a response. The sponsors shall periodically post relevant questions and answers on the project wall at

Please check Precedents PDF document to have a summary on all earlier presidential libraries.

Project History
Please check

This competition was submitted by an ArchDaily user. If you'd like to submit a competition, call for submissions or other architectural 'opportunity' please use our "Submit a Competition" form. The views expressed in announcements submitted by ArchDaily users do not necessarily reflect the views of ArchDaily.

Cite: "Call for Submissions: Obama Presidential Center" 21 Apr 2016. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884
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