Skip to content

Construction update May 2024: The Obama Presidential Center takes shape

A low angle shot shows workers on an orange basket lift affixing a panel of “Tapestry” stone to the lower west face of the Museum Building. A cloudy sunny sky is in the background.

With the Museum Building nearing completion, our commitment to uplifting the South and West Sides of Chicago shines brighter than ever.

On the exterior of the Museum Building, workers are installing stone. The concrete work has reached the highest public level of the building, where visitors will eventually go to the Sky Room. Everything is going according to plan, and next month, the Museum building will reach its full height! Inside, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and drywall work continues. Workers are installing the steel frames for large windows that will eventually be clad in bronze.

A scissor lift reaches up to support unseen workers who are installing the black steel frame for a three-story window that will look out into one of the Museum courtyards. Other trades are busy at the eastern side of the site near the lagoon, creating a special base using geofoam for the new landscape. This elevated area will offer visitors expansive views of Jackson Park, including the Wooded Island and the Museum of Science & Industry.

Construction progress is visible across different areas of the site. At the Forum Building, workers are still putting up exterior stone, while inside, they are shaping the terraced floors of the Auditorium. The Forum will house the Hadiya Pendleton Winter Garden and the Elie Wiesel Auditorium. It will also have a recording studio, programming rooms, and a restaurant for visitors to enjoy.

Workers wearing bright safety vests walk on large white blocks of geofoam that will form the base of the playground and great lawn. In the foreground, large metal construction implements are strewn about and a green and white golf cart sits to one side.
An aerial view of the South West corner of the Museum Building, the Forum, and part of the Library Building rooftops. Construction materials can be seen covering the landscape.

The new Chicago Public Library branch will offer interactive digital media spaces and amenities for children, informational and vocational resources for adults, and a reading room for all to enjoy. At the Library Building, workers are starting to work on the new Chicago Public Library and its Reading Courtyard. On the Library rooftop, workers poured the concrete walls and roof for the Fruit & Vegetable Garden Pavilion, which will include a teaching kitchen and public restrooms. The Fruit & Vegetable Garden will be a place where young people and community members can get their hands dirty and learn about growing sustainable food. 

Nearby, two new picnic areas are being set up. At the south end of the site, construction of the Center’s Home Court is in full swing. Our Home Court is a 45,000 square foot multipurpose space featuring a state-of-the-art gymnasium and wellness studios. It will serve as a venue for a variety of youth and adult programming, professional conferences, and community events.

Workers have already installed support caissons, and are now working on sheeting around the building's perimeter to prepare for excavation. Once the area is drained, they'll start digging out the lower level of the building.

More construction updates

On a clear blue-sky day, President Obama stands in a hard hat and a brightly colored safety vest at the Obama Presidential construction site and signs a beam. A large group of construction workers with various skin tones also wearing safety clothing surround him.
  • Building the Center
  • Chicago

The Museum Building at the Obama Presidential Center has reached its final height of 225 feet.

Learn more
President Obama is smiling wearing sunglasses, a white hardhat with the Obama Foundation rising sun logo, gloves, and a bright orange safety vest over a long dress coat. He is holding a cup of coffee and standing next to a white woman wearing a neon yellow construction coat, hard hat, and goggles. They are walking in front of three other people with a range of light to deep skin tones wearing orange safety vests and white hard hats. They are all walking in an unfinished building with scaffolding in the background.
  • Building the Center
  • Chicago

See the latest photos and stay up-to-date on the building process.

Learn more
A view of the Museum Building rising to the sky on the site of the Obama Presidential Center. Cranes are in the sky as work continues on the garage rooftop. Construction equipment is scattered throughout.
  • Building the Center
  • Chicago

The days may be getting cooler, but things are heating up at the Obama Presidential Center!

Learn more
On a clear day, a crane rises up behind a concrete building that’s under construction. In the foreground sits a rust-colored industrial trash bin and to the right, a construction worker wearing a white hard hat and yellow safety vest looks down at a pile of building material.
  • Building the Center
  • Chicago

It has been a season of great progress! The height of the stair and elevator wells have passed the halfway-point of the building.

Learn more
A construction worker in a white hard hat and orange safety vest looks at a structure as he stands on  the concrete floor of Museum Building Level 3
  • Building the Center
  • Chicago

Construction has reached the third floor, where a reconstruction of the Obama Oval Office will be on exhibit.

Learn more
A massive crane stands high above a construction site.
  • Building the Center
  • Chicago

Work on the Museum building has reached an exciting milestone with the placement of the street level deck to form the concrete floor at this level.

Learn more
A construction site with scaffolding, concrete and rebar. Two people wear neon yellow and hard hats on the right side.
  • Building the Center
  • Chicago

Major structural work on the underground parking garage is complete!

Learn more
Two construction workers wearing bright orange and yellow vests appear to unload planks of wood. They stand in a cavernous room of concrete filled with insulation and other building materials.
  • Building the Center
  • Chicago

As the Center continues to take shape, we are thrilled to reach a new milestone in its construction.

Learn more
A building being constructed of concrete. Beams and rebar can be seen in scaffolding.
  • Building the Center
  • Chicago

Construction at The Center has picked up considerably since the holidays, aided by the unseasonably mild weather.

Learn more


 A wide shot of the construction on the site of the Obama Presidential Center in the daytime.
  • Building the Center
  • Chicago

As construction of the Obama Presidential Center enters its second year, the focus is almost entirely on concrete.

Learn more
missing
  • Building the Center
  • Chicago

The organization is on track to meet its ambitious workforce and business diversity goals for construction.

Learn more
A construction site showing scaffolding and rebar
  • Building the Center
  • Chicago

The majority of columns for the lower level of the parking garage have been cast and construction of the concrete walls is nearly complete.

Learn more
People wearing neon yellow safety gear gather around Barack Obama as he shakes hands with a woman in the center. A white tarp is behind them.
  • Building the Center
  • Barack Obama

Watch as President Obama surprises the construction crew and tours the site.

Learn more
A wide view of a construction site with metal pilings and rebar.
  • Building the Center
  • Chicago

Mass excavation and earth retention is complete and the focus is now squarely on concrete operations.

Learn more
A construction site with concrete and scaffolding. A building is at the center with a red scaffold in the middle.
  • Building the Center
  • Chicago

Two tower cranes were installed to facilitate the construction of the Garage and Museum Building.

Learn more
A construction site filled with mud and concrete. Large metal tubing is on either side and a wood staircase is in the back center of the frame.
  • Building the Center
  • Chicago

A metal perimeter around the subterranean level of the main buildings and parking garage will prevent water from infiltrating the buildings.

Learn more
A wide shot of snow-covered ground and buildings in the background. The sun is shining in a blue sky.
  • Building the Center
  • Chicago

Progress on constructing the Obama Presidential Center continues with relatively few inclement weather delays.

Learn more
A snowy, muddy construction site with the rectangular outline of metal and red pipe.
  • Building the Center
  • Chicago

Drilling for geothermal wells is nearly complete, and work to connect the wells through a series of lateral ducts is about a third of the way finished.

Learn more
Two men in neon yellow construction jackets and hardhats stand waist-deep in a dirt trench. Behind them are construction vehicles and a blue sky with buildings.
  • Building the Center
  • Chicago

Drilling began for the first caissons that will support the underground parking garage.

Learn more
People explore the sky room of the future Obama Presidential Center
  • Building the Center
  • Chicago

This event will bring members of the disabilities community up to speed on the current approach to inclusive design at the OPC.

Learn more
Barack and Michelle Obama with shovels in their hands, smiling at the camera, pretending to dig in a pile of dirt. A man stands on one side of them, Mayor of Chicago Lori Lightfoot holds a shovel on the other side.
  • Building the Center
  • Barack Obama

Mayor Lightfoot and Governor Pritzker joined President and Mrs. Obama for the ceremony, each sharing remarks.

Learn more
A slightly-angled graphic rendering of a large, white rectangular building surrounded by green fields, white pathways and trees. A road is on one side and a body of water on the other.
  • Building the Center
  • Chicago

Roadway improvements will continue and construction will begin within the 19.3 acre site of the Center that sits within Jackson Park.

Learn more
A mostly green and gray site-plan map of the Obama Presidential Center with a focus on buildings, pathways and roads.
  • Building the Center
  • Chicago

Expect lane closures as preparatory work to remove the existing median on Cornell Drive and install a new one begins.

Learn more