Obama was joined by former First Lady Michelle, as well as Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, Ald. He says he hopes the center will become a hub of activity for Chicago's South Side.
Obama fielded questions from residents at a forum near the site, delving into nitty gritty details of traffic patterns, green space and job creation, while avoiding any mention of his successor in the White House.
The development will feature three buildings - a museum, forum and library - forming a campus around a plaza. "I would also hope that the library would not gentrify the community".
According to ABC News, though the library isn't scheduled to be completed for four years, President Obama was clear that the foundation's programming will start this year.
Former President Barack Obama announced that he and Michelle Obama will donate $2 million to the youth jobs programs in Chicago this summer.
Design unveiled for Obama Presidential Center.
The design team will include several people that are native to Chicago (specifically the South Side of the city), such as artist Amanda Williams, as well as Andres Hernandez and Norman Teague. "This is about reaching out right now".
The former President acknowledged there are challenges with the design - traffic, parking, crowd control - minority contracting, for example, but he promised the Obama Foundation will work through all of them with the surrounding communities. "But it's also going to be a transformational project for this community", Barack Obama said Wednesday. The center will also have exhibits with campaign memorabilia and personal artifacts.
"There will be a museum embedded in the library ... and let's face it, y'all want to see Michelle's dresses", Obama joked. The company won the commission past year out of 140 entries and is best known for their educational and institutional works, such as the Cranbrook Natatorium on the campus of the MI arts college, the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, and the American Museum of Folk Art in New York City. It will include classrooms, labs, and outdoor spaces, and it will conduct programs that provide visitors with experiences that inspire and tools to make things happen in their own communities.