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Obama Presidential Library Architect: 7 Finalists Announced

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The finalists have been announced for the illustrious Obama Presidential Library commission in Chicago, a very competitive list of seven national and international firms that includes just one from Chicago. As reported by Blair Kamin of the Chicago Tribune, John Ronan Architects, perhaps best known for the artful Poetry Foundation building in the city's River North neighborhood, was the only Chicago firm to make the cut. In addition to David Adjaye, long speculated to be a front-runner, the complete list of finalists include Italian Pritzker winner Renzo Piano, Diller Scofidio + Renfro (the High Line and L.A.'s Broad museum), Tod Williams Billie Tsien, SHoP Architects and Snøhetta . According to Kamin, the choices, announced in a press release by Martin Nesbitt, chairman of the Barack Obama Foundation, confirm Obama's preference for modernist architecture, as opposed to the stately Robert A.M. Stern design selected for the George W. Bush Presidential Library. If Piano or Adjaye won, they'd be the first foreign architects selected to design a Presidential Library. The lack of more local representation, such as Jeanne Gang, may be a huge disappointment to Chicagoans, who take great hometown pride in their architects and architecture, and currently play host to the first Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Now that the field has been winnowed to seven from 140, the finalists will be asked to submit proposals for the two sites still in play, Jackson Park and Washington Park, and present their ideas to the Obamas during the first quarter of next year. The Obamas will then make a decision by the middle of 2016. Expected to cost at least $500 million, the Obama Presidential Library is expected to be finished by 2020 or 2021.

(Looks like we were a bit off with our earlier predictions.)

Obama Foundation names finalists to design presidential library [Chicago Tribune]
Handicapping the Architects Competing for the Obama Presidential Library [Curbed]
John Ronan's New Poetry Foundation Unfolds Like, Well... a Poem [Curbed Chicago]