Obama Presidential Center to benefit community


Design rendering of the Obama Presidential Center (courtesy of The Obama Foundation)

Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States, was the first African-American to be elected to the White House. While Obama spent most of his childhood in Hawaii, Chicago is where his political career began.  He was elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1997, and later to the U.S. Senate in 2004.  Former First lady Michelle Obama also has deep roots in Chicago, where she was born and lived on the South Side

With those close ties to the city, it was no surprise when it was announced that the Obama Presidential Center will be built in Chicago.  However, several years have passed since that announcement, and to date, while plans have been drawn, no visible progress has been made.

According to The Obama Foundation, when completed, the Presidential Center will be a new landmark for the South Side, “welcoming visitors to Jackson Park and marking the center as a historic civic destination.”

The architecture of the proposed building  “embodies the idea of ascension—of a movement upward from the grassroots.”

The foundation explains the symbolism of the design.

“Its form is inspired by the idea of four hands coming together; a recognition that many hands shape a place.

In addition to housing historical materials, the building will include various public spaces, and feature “panoramic views of Lake Michigan to the East, the skyscrapers of downtown Chicago to the North, and the South Side of Chicago to the West and South.”

However, according to David Simas, Chief Executive Officer of the Obama Foundation (in a statemnt on the website obama.org) the goal is to do more than simply add another museum on Chicago’s lakefront.  Rather, it is to create programs that will “create new jobs and opportunities in the community, strengthen the economic climate, and revitalize historic Jackson Park.”

If the OPC can attain this lofty goals, it will also have a positive impact on Mount Carmel.