Former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were both on hand Tuesday at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago.
The center, officially Obama’s presidential library, is on Chicago’s South Side and will include a museum, an athletic center, a forum building, a public plaza, a play area and a branch of the Chicago Public Library.
Construction on the center began in August, following years of delays due to legal challenges and federal reviews. Some community members hoped officials would bar the Obama Foundation from building in Chicago’s Jackson Park, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A four-year federal review concluded in February that the center would pose “no significant impact to the human environment.”
Last month, a federal judge denied a request from the advocacy group Protect Our Parks to halt construction on the center. Shortly after, the same group filed a petition for an injunction with the Supreme Court, but Justice Amy Coney Barrett denied the request, effectively ending any hopes of stopping the project.
Obama defended the center’s location in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” that aired Tuesday.
“The truth is, any time you do a big project, unless you’re in the middle of a field somewhere, you know, and it’s on private property, there’s always going to be some people who say, ‘Well, but we don’t want change. We’re worried about it. We don’t know how it’s going to turn out,'” Obama told co-host Robin Roberts.
“Which is why we’ve gone through such an exhaustive process to encourage and elicit comments and concerns and criticism and suggestions from the community," he added.
In a video announcing the groundbreaking, the Obamas said they selected Chicago because it’s where the former first lady was born and raised, where the former president began community organizing, and where the two of them got married.
“We’ve worked with people who care about this place as much as we do,” the former president said.
The museum was designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, in partnership with Interactive Design Architects, a Chicago-based firm.
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