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MUDD 21 - City Visions II

Obama Presidential Center, Chicago

City Wide Initiatives

The Obama Presidential Center on the South Side of Chicago will be the first truly urban Presidential Library, very different from its predecessors in its outreach activities both global and local. At a global scale, the OPC will be part of the Global City power of Chicago. At a local scale, the OPC has the potential to drive significant change in the socio-economic profile and built form of the South Side. The MUDD21 Studio found, however, that the official sites selected by the Obama Foundation in the Olmsted parks are too isolated to draw economic activity into much needed areas of Washington Park and Woodlawn. In our view, the OPC will only become a catalyst for change in these neighborhoods through creative and committed Transit Oriented Development.

Given the current level of disinvestment and dysfunction in the neighborhoods despite support from powerful entities such as the Macarthur Foundation, the New Communities Program, the Preservation of Affordable Housing and the Housing Assistance Program; community activist groups such as The Woodlawn Organization; and incentive mechanisms such as Tax Increment Financing and Low Income Housing Tax Credits, the base conditions are basic indeed. In response, the TOD strategy has to be simple and direct. This means the Obama Presidential Center has to be located within a five minute walk from a transit station. Only with intense pedestrian activity within that 400m zone will socio-economic uplift be initiated and sustained in any meaningful way.

The six alternative locations for the OPC proposed in this study, shown as 400m radius TOD zones in Washington Park and Woodlawn

The six alternative sites proposed in this study show the potential of such a TOD strategy centred on transit stations in Washington Park and Woodlawn with the Obama Presidential Center as anchor and attractor in each instance. As stated in our evaluation table (previous page), choosing among the six


sites is a question of values. At the same time, it is clear from the aerial photo above that selection of one site out of the six will leave vast tracts of the South Side bereft of economic stimulus and hope. To effect substantive change in this part of Chicago, the OPC must be part of a bigger plan.

Mudd folio final 02 mar 2016  
Mudd folio final 02 mar 2016  

City Visions: Method & Design Chicago | Berlin | Sydney International Studio workshops from the Masters of Urban Development & Design degree...