David Adjaye favourite to design Barack Obama legacy library

David-Adjaye

The search is on across the world for an architect to design a building which will be a lasting legacy to President Barack Obama.

Presidential libraries are built with private donations and then turned over to be administered by the US government. Every president since Franklin Roosevelt has had one built in their honour.

Most likely location for the project is Obama’s home city of Chicago – and current front-runner to design it is UK-based David Adjaye.

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The 48-year-old would be the first non-American to design a presidential library.

Born in Tanzania, he rose to prominence in Britain in the 1990s by designing homes for celebrities like Ewan McGregor and Alexander McQueen, other projects include Oslo’s Nobel Peace Centre and the Rivington Place gallery in London.

He broke through in the US by winning the contract to design the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, being built close to the White House.

Obama spoke at the museum’s groundbreaking ceremony in 2012 and later that year invited Adjaye to a dinner held in honour of UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron. The architect sat at the head table with the two leaders, joined by George Clooney and Warren Buffett, the billionaire American investor.

Witold Rybczynski, an architect who sat on the advisory committee for George W Bush’s Texas library, said that Adjaye’s African roots made him a natural consideration for the first black president’s library.

“He’s a very good young architect with a high profile and African connections and is doing a high profile project in Washington,” he said.

Choosing a non-American might prove controversial, as could past comments Adjaye has made about the US.

“You can dislike the US for all kinds of things,” he said in 2012. “It is an empire and it makes mistakes but, every so often, it learns from those mistakes and does something incredible – it elected Obama.”

Adjaye’s works include Oslo’s Nobel Peace Centre and the Rivington Place gallery in east London.

The Barack H Obama Foundation was formed in January last year to begin raising money under the supervision of Marty Nesbitt, one of the president’s closest friends, and Julianna Smoot, a former White House aide.

Michael Sorkin, an American architect and critic, has proposed using the library to revive Chicago’s South Side, home to both Obama’s Chicago house and some of the city’s poorest neighbourhoods.

In a design proposal that he gave to Michelle Obama at the White House in 2013, Sorkin suggested the library could include a hospital facility, schools and housing.

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