Barack and Michelle Obama have officially begun construction on one of their largest post-White House projects. On Tuesday (Sept. 28) the couple broke ground on the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park, Chicago. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the facility is promised as a “university for activism and social change.”
During the ceremony, both Barack and Michelle addressed the city. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot were also present for the landmark event.
“It feels natural for Michelle and me to want to give back to Chicago and to the South Side in particular,” remarked the former POTUS. “We will always be grateful for that, and the Obama Presidential Center is our way of repaying some of what this amazing city has given us, but we’re also building this center because we believe it can speak to the struggles of our time.”
Mrs. Obama also spoke during the groundbreaking ceremony in her hometown. She shared how the center “allows us to live one of those values we learned right here, and that is to give back something big and important and meaningful to the community that has given us so much.”
“This groundbreaking marks the next chapter in a journey that began several years ago, with many twists and turns, but due to the perseverance, dedication, and the hard work of many, we’ve arrived at this momentous day,” added Lightfoot. “This is the future of the South Side that will be created in partnership with the community.”
The completed campus will host a park and activity center, historical museum, library, and plaza, as well as the restoration of the Women’s Garden and an outdoor play area for children. The Obama Presidential Center is designed by architects Todd Williams and Billie Tsien.
“By tapping into the boundless talent of neighborhoods throughout Chicago, it will become a campus for the community, built in partnership with the community,” the website describes. “The Obama Presidential Center will connect the economy of the South Side of Chicago with the rest of the city, creating new jobs and opportunities. It will breathe new life into a park that has long been protected and loved, but underused. And it will uphold our commitment to this vibrant community.
Watch The Obama Presidential Center groundbreaking ceremony below: