Obama Foundation announces team of Landscape Architects for Obama Presidential Center

Recently, the Obama Foundation announced the landscape architecture team for the Obama Presidential Center (OPC).  Working with the OPC’s previously announced architects, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and InterActive Design Architects, a team comprised of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), Site Design Group, and Living Habitats will serve as the project’s landscape architects.

MVVA will lead the landscape architect team in partnership with Site Design Group and Living Habitats, two Chicago-based firms. MVVA has led the design for many award-winning civic projects including Maggie Daley Park in Chicago and Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York. Site Design Group is a minority-owned firm with a successful track record of working on Chicago Park District projects in neighborhoods across the city. Living Habitats is a women-owned firm with an abiding commitment to sustainable and environmentally-integrated design work.

“We are incredibly excited to be a part of this historic project. Together with Site Design Group and Living Habitats and, of course, with TWBTA and InterActive Design, we are committed to creating an OPC that honors the vision of Frederick Law Olmsted and at the same time is accessible, inspirational and joyful,” said Michael Van Valkenburgh, President and CEO of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.

In October, the Obama Foundation announced the formation of an Inclusion Council, led by local leaders to ensure that the work of the Foundation is informed by a diverse set of viewpoints and is in line with the values of diversity and inclusion. In July, the Obama Foundation announced Jackson Park as the site of the future Obama Presidential Center. The Foundation considers the South Side community a full partner in the development and construction of the OPC, including in the integration of the OPC into Jackson Park. In June, the Obama Foundation announced that Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners and Interactive Design Architects will lead the design phase of the Obama Presidential Center.

“Growing up in the Hyde Park / Kenwood community has infused in me a sense of responsibility to the South Side and the city as a whole.  We are honored to partner with MVVA, Living Habitats and especially the Obama Foundation to realize an incredible asset for Jackson Park and this strong and vibrant community” – Ernie Wong, Founder of Site Design Group

“At Living Habitats, we are inspired by the Obamas and their commitment to community and public service. We are excited to collaborate with MVAA and Site Design Group to create a Presidential Center that reflects the Obamas’ values, especially as it relates to sustainability and the natural environment,” – Heidi Natura, President and Founder of Living Habitats.


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Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/damianholmes/