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Obama foundation to launch architect search for library, museum

WASHINGTON — The Barack Obama Foundation is poised to launch a search for an architect to design the Obama presidential center in Chicago, multiple sources said.

President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle and the foundation announced last May that the center will be on Chicago’s South Side — either at Washington or Jackson Parks.

It is still undecided in which park the Obama presidential library, museum and offices for the foundation will be located, sources said.

Foundation chief Marty Nesbitt said last May the next step would be the selection of an architect.

A source told the Chicago Sun-Times that the foundation is preparing “a very general” request to which architecture firms may respond. Another source said the selection process will be kicking off “very soon.”

The competition for the premier high-profile commission is expected to draw the interest of the leading “starchitects” across the globe.

The foundation has stated in earlier documents associated with the site selection competition that the “unified design vision” calls for the building to be a “responsible steward of the environment” and one that “embodies principles of biomimicry to create a living building.”

The foundation has said it wants an “integration of site and building design.” That could mean that the foundation will put off a decision about which park to pick until an architect is on board.

Meanwhile, the Obamas continue to map out the next chapter of their lives. I reported in April that the president and first lady are consulting with Lynn Taliento, a partner in the McKinsey & Company Washington office and an adviser to the foundation.

Taliento’s specialty, according to McKinsey, is dealing with “foundations, corporations, nonprofits and development agencies to design strategies and organizations to achieve social impact.”