Obama Foundation to host public meeting to discuss its plans and zoning application for the Obama Center

By TONIA HILL
Staff Writer

The Barack Obama Foundation will host a public meeting at the McCormick Center next Tuesday February 27, doors open at 5 pm to discuss its plans and zoning application for the future Obama Presidential Center that will be housed in Jackson Park.

Design elements for the Obama Center as well as the foundation’s initiatives and programs will also be discussed at the meeting. The gathering will also serve as an opportunity for the foundation to gather feedback from the public.

Tod Williams, Billie Tsien, and Dina Griffin, the architects for the Obama Center; Michael Van Valkenburgh, the lead landscape architect for the OPC; and members of the Lakeside Alliance construction management team will join members of the Foundation’s senior leadership team at the meeting on Tuesday.

The public meeting will include an overview of current plans for the Obama Center with breakout discussions around topics including:

• Designing the Obama Presidential Campus: Buildings & Landscape
• Inside the Obama Presidential Center: the Visitor Experience and Programming
• Economic Impact
• Chicago Park District’s Plans for New Track and Turf Field
• Chicago Department of Transportation Proposed Transportation Changes and improvements for Pedestrians, Bicyclists, and Drivers

Representatives from the foundation, Chicago Department of Transportation and Chicago Park District will lead the breakout discussions and take feedback and questions from the public.

Since concept design plans were released last May, the Obama Foundation has participated in large-scale community meetings alongside the City of Chicago, Chicago Department of Transportation, Chicago Park District and Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) in summer 2017. This will be the second meeting hosted by the foundation at McCormick Place.

“We appreciate the time and engagement we’ve seen from our neighbors on the South Side and across the city,” said David Simas, CEO of the Obama Foundation, in a written statement. “People have joined us at public meetings, shared their views online, and invited us into their homes and organizations to share their thoughts and ideas. The plan we present today is stronger as a result of this collaboration and we want to thank all those who have participated in and continue to be part of this process.”

In January, The Obama Foundation, Chicago Park District and Chicago Department of Transportation submitted separate plans that are necessary to green light the formation of the Obama Center.

All three entities’ submissions to the city are consistent with what was shared with the public including a few minor changes.

The Obama Foundation has added on-site underground parking for the Obama Center and has adjusted the design of the buildings that make up the campus. The Chicago Park District introduced a relocated track and field to replace what will be lost due to the construction of the Obama Center.

Lastly, the Chicago Department of Transportation introduced known roadway changes to accompany the design for the Obama Center with the suggestion of two additional pedestrian underpasses.

Members of the community can RSVP for the meeting but it is not required. To RSVP visit https://www.obama.org/chicago/rsvp/. Community members may also submit questions on Obama.org.

t.hill@hpherald.com