"We are the change that we seek."
Barack Obama

Why does Obama chose the site on the south side of Chicago, and not in downtown? What does he want his library to be? What should be developed from former presidential libraries? How it would be harmonized within the neighborhood? What would people experience in the library? How to show the time of Obama presidency more transparent to people? How to relate natural sources of the site to the library?


Concept of this project is Beacon, a beacon is something that is there to shine light and guidance for those who need it. With this building being the presidential library for Obama, the one message arose from him, Hope. The message of Hope was something Obama wanted to express across the nation. Hope is something that people look up to. People need hope to drive them to excellence and reassurance of security. Calling this building the Beacon of Hope will hopefully connect the surrounding communities and reach out to the nation. We hope that the Beacon of Hope could be seen from everywhere no matter what and could inspire people to connect and see each other as one nation.

The exterior of the building is made out of anodized aluminum panels. The reason that I chose this was because it is a great material that could be manufactured to fit the curvature of the build. Also, the panels, being the material that they are, means that they don’t get dirty and no streaks, which in the end means no maintenance required on them. The panels are light weight and energy efficient for the building. For the coloring of the panels, I went with white. The reason why white was chosen was because I wanted to keep this building in a pure form. White is one of the purest forms out there, it is also great reflecting light, therefore, great on energy and most of all strengthens or concept of this being a Beacon of Hope. Therefore , the white mass floating on the clear water pond express the transparency of presidency and brightness of beacon.

Once someone approaches the building they are greeted with two entrances. After walking along the path and traveling down under the water, one gets a great view from the glass ceiling overhead. Once in the building the first thing one notices is the large atrium that leads throughout the building as one goes up in the glass elevator, they can take stops and visit the auditorium where guest speakers put on a show, or where the scholars give their lectures. The next big stop is the grand public stair, people go here to be greeted by great views and reading areas. Also, there is space for meditation and group study areas. But the best view is when someone looks up and sees the archive system that is there, showing all of Obama’s presidency. After viewing all of this, one travels to the top floor where there is the outdoor viewing area and a public café/kitchen. People could host events in this space.



Somin Lee
Niko Shavers
Fabiana Cortolezzis

Beacon of Hope | Obama Presidential Library by Somin Lee in United States won the WA Award Cycle 25. Please find below the WA Award poster for this project.

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