John Ronan Architects only local finalist for Obama Presidential Center design

rfq obama library

The Barack Obama Foundation has  issued a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) to seven architectural firms, one of which will ultimately be selected to design the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) on the South Side of Chicago.

John Ronan Architects is the only Chicago architect to make the shortlist, from an original response by about 140 architects who expressed interest in the project.

The foundation said on Dec. 21 that the  following firms have been selected to submit their proposals: (Descriptions provided by the Obama Foundation).

Adjaye Associates, London, England

Adjaye Associates was founded by David Adjaye in 2000. Based in London with a U.S. office in New York, the firm has worked on projects across four continents. Notable works include the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway, and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, currently under construction in Washington, D.C. Adjaye is also designing the expansion of the Studio Museum in Harlem. Adjaye was awarded the Wall Street Journal Innovator Award in 2013. The Art Institute of Chicago is currently running a mid-career retrospective of Adjaye’s work.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro, New York, NY

Diller Scofidio + Renfro is led by three partners – Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio, and Charles Renfro. The firm’s portfolio includes a wide range of major institutional projects including the recently awarded design of the David M. Rubenstein Forum at the University of Chicago, the renovation of Lincoln Center in New York, and the Broad Museum in Los Angeles. The firm also designed the High Line in New York City. Diller and Scofidio, the firm’s founding principals, were awarded the MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellowship in 1999.

John Ronan Architects, Chicago, Illinois

John Ronan founded his Chicago-based firm in 1999. He has designed many academic and civic institutions in Chicago including the Gary Comer Youth Center where the Obama Foundation held its press conference to announce site selection in May 2015. Other notable works include the Poetry Foundation in Chicago, Gary Comer College Prep in Chicago, and the Illinois Institute of Technology Innovation Center. Ronan was awarded the AIA Institute National Honor Award for both the Poetry Foundation and the Gary Comer Youth Center.

Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Genova, Italy

Founded in 1981 by Renzo Piano, the Renzo Piano Building Workshop is headquartered in Genova, Italy, with offices in New York. Mr. Piano was awarded the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1998 and the AIA Gold Medal in 2008. Notable works include the modern wing at the Art Institute of Chicago, the California Academy of Science, and the Whitney Museum’s new building on Gansevoort Street in New York. Current projects include the Palais de Justice in Paris, France.

SHoP Architects, New York, NY

Founded in 1996 and based in lower Manhattan, SHoP is led by five principals: Christopher Sharples, Coren Sharples, Gregg Pasquarelli, Kimberly Holden, and William Sharples. SHoP Architects won the Architecture Design award from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in 2009. Notable work includes the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the Botswana Innovation Hub in Gaborone, Botswana, and academic buildings at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. SHoP is currently designing Uber’s new headquarters in San Francisco.

Snøhetta, New York, NY

Snøhetta has offices in the United States and Europe. Its offices in New York and San Francisco are majority owned and operated by the American Architects Craig Dykers and Elaine Molinar. Elaine along with co-Founders Craig Dykers and Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, created the studio in Oslo in 1989. Snøhetta was awarded the prestigious Mies van der Rohe Prize in 2009 for the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet. Snøhetta’s body of work includes the National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, the expansion of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the James B. Hunt Jr. Library at North Carolina State.

Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, New York, NY

Tod Williams and Billie Tsien founded their New York-based firm in 1974. Their studio — by choice — designs only institutional, academic, civic, and residential work. They were awarded the 2013 National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama. Noteworthy work designed by Williams and Tsien include the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago, and the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, California. They are currently designing the United States Embassy complex in Mexico.

“The Foundation received submissions from an impressive list of architects with a range of styles, expertise, and experience,” said Martin Nesbitt, chairman of the Obama Foundation. “These finalists offer a variety of backgrounds and styles, and any one of them would be an excellent choice. We are excited to see this process moving forward because the Obama Presidential Center will be so much more than a library – this facility will seek to inspire citizens across the globe to better their communities, their countries, and their world.”

The Obama Foundation released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) on Aug. 26 and asked that responses be submitted by Sept. 16. The Foundation and its advisers reviewed and summarized the responses and made recommendations to the President and First Lady, the foundation announcement said.

The responses from the firms will be submitted to the foundation during the first quarter of 2016. “Although the RFP process is not a design competition, the RFP will require defined, visual responses from each candidate to present creative ideas in response to the foundation’s project goals. As the foundation has not yet selected the specific site for the development of the OPC, the architectural firms will be asked to prepare responses for both the Jackson Park and Washington Park site.”

The architect will be responsible for designing the Obama Presidential Center, including a library holding the presidential archives, “a museum focusing on the Obama presidency and issues of our time,” and space for programs and initiatives that advance the foundation’s public mission.


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