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The Obamas Will Pick The Obama Presidential Center's Designer

By Kate Shepherd in News on Aug 26, 2015 7:27PM


Architectural firms have a chance to plan and design the Obama Presidential Center, and President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will select the winning firm.

About 90 percent of the firms invited to bid on the project are based in the U.S. and the invitations are "pretty skewed" to Chicago-based firms, Obama Foundation chair Martin Nesbitt and architecture expert Paul Goldberger said in a conference call, according to the Sun-Times.

The foundation posted a Request for Qualifications with more details on the project Wednesday. In the document, architects are asked for input of whether to locate the center in Washington Park or Jackson Park. Applicants are also asked to not include any designs, sketches or conceptual ideas for the building or they will be disqualified from the competition.

Responses are due on Sept. 16 and this fall, and the President and First Lady will personally select the firms chosen to go onto the next Request for Proposal phase, according to a timeline on the foundation's website.

In late 2015 chosen firms will be asked to send their proposals in a meeting with the foundation and visit to the proposed site. Select respondents will make their presentations to the President and First Lady, who will ultimately choose the architect in early 2016.

The process will not require a full design competition, but rather a "defined, limited effort from each candidate to present creative ideas in response to the foundation's project goals," according to the foundation's website.

The foundation is also conducting economic development studies to help determine whether the center will land in Washington or Jackson Park, according to the Sun-Times.