The Obama Presidential Center will be constructed in Jackson Park on Chicago's South Side Woodlawn neighborhood.
The design was crafted by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, the husband-wife NY architects who were scheduled to appear with the Obamas at a South Shore Cultural Center event unveiling the plan. Obama admitted that the opening of his own presidential library was a bit of an ego trip.
Renderings of the center show three buildings, including a tower-like museum and tree-lined walkways.
The museum, the tallest of the three structures, will include public areas, offices and classrooms in addition to exhibition space, the Obama Foundation said in a statement.
The library and forum buildings will be used for study and foundation programming. Designers are focusing on merging the best of the outdoors with the best of the indoors by including plenty of green spaces, green roofs, and public gardens.
The center will be situated in Chicago's historic Jackson Park, site of the 1892 Columbian Exposition originally designed by Frederick Olmsted, considered the father of American landscape architecture.
The former first couple say the project should represent "what it means to be a good citizen in the 21st century".
"There are a lot of presidential libraries and I think there is a tendency to think of this as a monument to the past, to think of it as something that is backwards-looking ..." "Because what we want this to be is the world's premier institution for training young people and leadership to make a difference in their communities, in their countries and in the world".
"It's not just a single building, but it's more like a campus", he said. It's not just a park.
The design team will include several people that are native to Chicago (specifically the South Side of the city), such as artist Amanda Williams, as well as Andres Hernandez and Norman Teague.