Former President Barack Obama will moderate a roundtable discussion on the future Obama Presidential Center on Wednesday in Chicago.
‘s second Chicago trip in as many weeks on Wednesday will include two events and a first look at a design for his presidential center in Jackson Park.
About 300 people are expected at a midday event at the South Shore Cultural Center, where Obama will moderate a roundtable discussion on the future Obama Presidential Center. Former first lady Michelle Obama will also attend — it will be her first trip back to Chicago since leaving the White House in January.
The Obama Foundation said Barack Obama is set to provide an update on the center. A 3-D model of the design will be shown, the Tribune has reported.
"It was important to (Obama) to make the initial announcement to community members on the South Side of Chicago and to have that conversation with them," said a source familiar with Obama’s plans who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Later Wednesday the former president and first lady will attend an event at The Chicago Club hosted by the Civic Committee of The Commercial Club of Chicago. That event is closed to the press.
It’s expected Barack Obama will sound similar themes at both events, presenting his vision for his foundation and presidential center and giving details about what the center is going to look like, the source said.
"He very much wants this to be a project that’s a part of the Chicago South Side community, even though this is going to be a center that has relationships globally," the source said. "It’s very important to him that the connection is felt locally."
The future presidential center is expected to open in Jackson Park in 2021 at a cost of at least $500 million, and fundraising has been expected to pick up significantly with Obama out of office.
The structure’s design has been a closely guarded secret. Husband-and-wife architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien of New York, who will be on hand for the event at the South Shore Cultural Center, said earlier this year at an event in New York that Obama critiqued an early plan of theirs as too quiet.
"He said it was too unflashy," ArchDaily quoted Tsien as saying. "He looked at what we did and he said, ‘I said you could be sort of quiet, but I think you’re a little too quiet.’"
The architects also speculated that it might cost $1.5 billion to cover construction, endowment and other costs of the library and museum. The escalation is partly explained by a rising endowment requirement for presidential libraries, but also by Obama’s ambition for his library, which will house a museum, archives and community gathering spaces that create a "center for citizenship."
The Obamas are expected to arrive Wednesday morning and leave Wednesday evening.