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7 Finalists Chosen for Obama Presidential Center Design

Now we know who will compete for one of the most coveted design contracts in the country: the presidential library that will bear Barack Obama's name.
December 23, 2015, 5am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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[Updated 12/23/2015] Blair Kamin got the fun job of not only reporting the list of seven finalists for the design of the Obama Presidential Center, but then also writing a second article that offers a bit more of the critic's perspective on the choices.

The list of finalists: Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, David Adjaye Associates, Renzo Piano, John Ronan Architects, ShoP Architects, and Snohetta. In reporting the news, Kamin notes that the list only includes one Chicago-based firm (John Ronan Architects) and excludes a popular favorite in the Chicago architecture community, Studio Gang Architects.

Switching to critic mode, Kamin provides a succinct evaluation of the choices: "The seven finalists are modernists, not classicists. They are strong, even adventurous, choices. And just as important, the selection process itself has been well-designed."

The Obama Foundation, which made the announcement of the finalists earlier this week, is "asking the finalists to produce conceptual designs for both sites being considered for the presidential center — one in Jackson Park, the other in and alongside Washington Park," reports Kamin. Including the site selection process in the design competition will empower the winning architecture team, writes Kamin: "organizers have ensured that the winning architect will have a say, perhaps even the decisive one, on the essential question of where the center should be built."

[This post was updated to include the full list of seven finalists.]

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Published on Monday, December 21, 2015 in Chicago Tribune
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