Seven firms are now in the running to design the Obama Presidential Center, a complex to be constructed in Chicago which will include a library, museum, and Barack Obama Foundation office space.
The finalist firms are: Adjaye Associates, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, John Ronan Architects, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, SHoP Architects, Snøhetta, and Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects. "These finalists offer a variety of backgrounds and styles, and any one of them would be an excellent choice," foundation chairman Martin Nesbitt said in a press release.
Following a request for qualifications process earlier this year, the foundation has sent a request for proposals to these seven firms. According to the press release: "Although the RFP process is not a design competition, the RFP will require defined, visual responses from each candidate to present creative ideas in response to the Foundation’s project goals." The foundation announced in May that the center would be in Chicago, although a site has not yet been finalized. Two spots are being considered: Washington Park or Jackson Park, both in Chicago's South Side. The finalists are tasked with developing ideas for both potential sites.
In an article published this morning about the news, Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin writes: "Taken as a group, the finalists reveal the affinity of President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama for modernist architecture, whether it's sleek and clean-lined or strongly sculptural. The seven represent a sharp contrast to tradition-minded architect Robert A.M. Stern, of New York, who designed the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas."
As Kamin notes, only one firm (John Ronan Architects) of the seven is based in Chicago.
1 Chicago-based architectural firm (John Ronan), 4 NY-based firms, Adjaye Associates in London & Renzo Piano get RFPs from Obama library— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) December 21, 2015
The only surprise: no Jeanne Gang. https://t.co/Cxw47W4t6I— Zach Mortice (@zachmortice) December 21, 2015
Obama Library short list has one Chicagoan, one MacArthur genius (but it's not the same firm) https://t.co/DEPPWMMjY7— EdwardKeegan (@EdwardKeegan) December 21, 2015
I can't help but wonder if there was always going to be one Chicago-firm slot and Ronan took it. https://t.co/PKyMHOfsyh— Amanda Kolson Hurley (@amandakhurley) December 21, 2015
My reaction: SHoP and Snohetta! No Jeanne Gang? https://t.co/YYQzjMtGSA— Alexandra Lange (@LangeAlexandra) December 21, 2015
Intriguing mix. Let the speculation begin. https://t.co/Dd7J8Ia8l6— John King (@JohnKingSFChron) December 21, 2015