Former President Obama visits presidential center construction site for milestone

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Chicago Construction News staff writer

Former President Barack Obama visited Chicago on June 10 to celebrate a construction milestone at the presidential center in Jackson Park.

The “topping out” ceremony celebrated the Obama Presidential Center’s Museum building reaching its final height of 225 feet.

Expected to open in 2026, the center will have an athletic, programs and events facility, an auditorium, a branch of the Chicago Public Library, a fruit and vegetable garden and more.

The four-story museum building will house exhibit galleries that “tell the story of President and Mrs. Obama, the stories of the extraordinary and ordinary people whose work made their story possible, their historic presidency, and inspire visitors to learn about the role they can play in bringing change home.”At the southwest corner of the site, the Home Court – a 45,000 square-foot multipurpose athletic and events space, will feature a gymnasium with a regulation-size NBA court with intersecting practice courts, flexible seating, exercise training space, and fitness equipment.

The facility is being built by Elevate Design Group, a joint firm led by Bowa Construction, an African American-owned construction management firm headquartered in Chicago on South Stony Island, and AECOM/Hunt. Moody Nolan, the largest African American design firm in the United States, is the design partner for the Elevate Design Build team. The selection of Elevate and Moody Nolan is consistent with the Foundation’s efforts to ensure leadership and decision-making positions related to the Home Court build are provided to inclusive firms.

“Our firm is incredibly proud to lead the efforts to build an athletic center, programs and events facility for President Obama, a man who has inspired my generation and countless others. I am personally honored to contribute to a legacy of empowerment and progress, driving positive change for our community and beyond,” said Nosa Ehimwenman, Founder of BOWA Construction.

The space is also being designed to be consistent with the Foundation’s sustainability goals for the campus. Visitors will be welcomed into a two-story lobby which will shed bright natural light on many of the interior spaces of the building. Like the rest of the campus, the Home Court will be heated and cooled primarily through the use of geothermal energy, which is a key part of the campus-wide strategy to avoid the use of fossil fuels.

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