At least 11 firms have been invited to apply for the Barack Obama Presidential Library design contract in Chicago.
Prominent firms from Chicago, across the US, and a handful of international architects have all been contacted by the Barack Obama Foundation to submit qualifications for the project, according to Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin.
According to Kamin, Renzo Piano – who completed a large addition to the Art Institute of Chicago several years ago – is among those who have been invited to bid for the new building. Piano's new Whitney Museum in New York was recently dedicated by first lady Michelle Obama.
The architects of the two previous Presidential libraries are also on the long list. Robert A M Stern designed the George W Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Former first lady Laura Bush is an alumna of the school. Polshek Partnership, now known as Ennead, designed the Clinton library in Little Rock.
Chicago-based German architect Helmut Jahn is also on the list. Jahn was a guest at a State Dinner for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Other American firms on the list include the San Francisco office of SOM and Diller Scofidio + Renfro – the latter having recently completed The Broad art museum in Los Angeles. The Freelon Group, one of the most prominent African American-led firms in the US, is also in contention.
Chicago-based Studio Gang is also a likely candidate, though Jeanne Gang declined to comment to the Tribune. Kamin names Morphosis – the LA-based firm founded by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne – as another unconfirmed possibility.
The library, to be built after Obama's final term ends, will house ephemera relating to his life and presidency. It will be the 14th official presidential library in the US, each dedicated to presenting documents and artefacts related to a former president – alongside scholarly libraries and spaces for private philanthropic and education foundations.
Their construction is privately funded. Once complete, they are maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration, an independent agency that receives federal funding.
Two sites, in Washington and Jackson parks, have been identified as possible locations for the Obama library project. Both parks are located on Chicago's South Side, where Michelle Obama grew up, and were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, America's most renowned landscape architect.
The park locations have been controversial, as some open-space advocates see it as a privatisation of public land.