Museum at Obama Presidential Center in Chicago tops out

Obama Centre structure

The monolithic museum anchoring the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago has topped out, with former president Barack Obama placing his signature on an uppermost beam.

Designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, The Museum sits on the northern side of the Obama Presidential Center with a form that was “inspired by the idea of four hands coming together”.

Obama Centre museum
The Museum building at the Obama Presidential Center has topped out

“The Museum Building, the tallest building on the 19.3 acre campus, has reached its full height of 225 feet (68 metres), known in the construction industry as ‘topping out,'” said the team.

President Obama attended the topping out ceremony, signing a beam which will be located in the top-floor Sky Room a restful space for taking in views of the surrounding city.

Obama signing a beam
Former President Barack Obama signed an uppermost beam

“This milestone moment is part of President Obama’s hands-on approach, continuing his dedication and active involvement in shaping what will be a transformational experience at the Center,” said the team.

Previously released drawings and models of the museum show a solid, geometric volume, with cutaway corners and a variety of window sizes placed around its facade.

Construction workers up on beams
The building was designed to reflect the form of four hands coming together

A screen of words from President Obama’s speech marking the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches cover one corner of the building, which will surround the Sky Room.

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

Obama Centre campus under constructuni
It sits on the northern side of the Chicago campus

“Like these hands, each facade of the four-sided building will be a little different from the next, providing a unique but engaging view from each angle.”

The museum’s contents “will tell the story of president and Mrs Obama and their historic presidency” according to the team.

Obama Centre structure
It will contain programming dedicated to the Obama presidency

Other construction updates note that granite is being installed on the building’s exterior and escalators and elevators are being installed on the interior.

Elsewhere on the campus, the library and the cultural centre the Forum are receiving wall framing, plumbing and drywall installation.

Home Court at Obama Presidential Center


Moody Nolan unveils design of athletic facility at Obama presidential campus

Work on the Home Court sports centre announced earlier this year designed by Mood Nolan is also “progressing rapidly”, with plans to begin the foundation work this month.

Other projects on the campus underway include landscape design by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, a parking garage, and a large lawn.

Obama Centre structure
It is expected to open in 2026

The Museum is expected to open in 2026.

Elsewhere in Chicago, Pelli Clarke & Partners recently completed a skyscraper, while images of an extension to O’Hare International Airport by  SOM, Ross Barney Architects, Juan Gabriel Moreno Architects and Arup were released.

The photography is courtesy of the Obama Foundation

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