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140 Architects Want to Design the Obama Library

By Sam Cholke | September 18, 2015 4:12pm
 The majority of the pitches to design the Obama library are Americans, with
The majority of the pitches to design the Obama library are Americans, with "many" from Chicago.
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Getty Images/Pool Photo

HYDE PARK — A lot of architecture firms — 140 — want to design the Barack Obama Presidential Library.

The Obama Foundation on Friday said 140 architecture firms, 99 from the United States, have expressed interest in designing the presidential library.

Submissions were due on Sept. 16 and the foundation said in a statement Friday that “many” are from Chicago, though it’s still unclear the exact number.

“We are pleased to see such a high level of interest in the design of the Obama Presidential Center from so many highly qualified architecture firms,” said Martin Nesbitt, chairman of the foundation. “This center will be the headquarters for the post-presidential activities of President Obama, and we are looking forward to thoughtfully reviewing each firm’s submission.”

The applicants aren’t submitting designs, just a framework for how they would grapple with a project where the final site hasn’t even been determined yet.

“We’re not asking for a design, we’re trying to get to know them and their qualifications and their level of interest,” said New York Times architecture critic Paul Goldberger, who was brought in to help design the selection process, when the foundation announced in August that the search for an architect had begun.

Goldberger and other consultants will help comb through the pitches, but the president and first lady will decide the final list of architects from whom they want to see a more detailed proposal.

The library will be built in either Washington or Jackson parks, another decision for the president once both sites are thoroughly researched, possibly with the input from the final architect.

The library is expected to cost $500 million to build and could open as soon as 2020.

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