HYDE PARK — The design team for Barack Obama’s presidential library is now complete and is just waiting for Obama to decide on the "experience” he wants for the center, according to Obama Foundation officials.
Michael Strautmanis, vice president for civic engagement for the foundation developing Obama’s presidential center, said Tuesday at an event introducing the architecture team at the DuSable Museum of African American History, that the president is still undecided on the design.
“The president is still really exploring ideas,” Strautmanis said. “Once the president and Mrs. Obama have settled on that experience and what they want to see, believe me they will want to share themselves their overall vision with you.”
The event gathered more than 100 community leaders from the neighborhoods around the library’s site in Jackson Park eager to hear some hint from architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien what the former president was saying he wanted the library to look like.
The husband-wife team, which also designed the nearby Logan Center for the Arts on the University of Chicago campus, was tight-lipped about any designs they’ve come up with since being brought on to the project in June.
“I feel like our entire lives we’ve been working toward this project,” Tsien said. “We are so honored and feel such a huge responsibility both to you the community and to expressing the legacy and really the future of the Obamas.”
In February, Tsien said during the Longhouse Award ceremony in New York that Obama rejected early ideas as “too unflashy,” according to reports in ArchDaily.
There was little chance to ask if the architects had since struck the right note with the Obamas after their brief remarks, when they quickly left for a private reception closed to the press without taking questions.
Strautmanis said he expects Obama to share some of the designs for the library soon.
“My expectation is the president and Mrs. Obama plan to share their vision for this center this year and that will obviously include some sort of design,” Strautmanis said.
He said the community process will also intensify after the guiding principles for the library are established that will lead the design.
Strautmanis said the plan is still to break ground in 2018.