Remember Barack Obama? He used to be president like four score and seven light years ago. What’s the thing for former presidents to do, besides actually get sleep and cease aging at an exponential rate? Why, build a monument to preserve your own legacy, of course! Presidential libraries have been en vogue since the 1930s but this is the first one we’ve ever heard of to have a yoga room. A what? Yep. And lots more.
Plans for the new Obama Presidential Center were announced earlier this year and if the name is any indication, there’s already a departure from the norm. Traditionally, these places are libraries and museums hosting the many documents and archives from that particular presidential administration. Of course, there will be the library and museum, but the Obamas plan to go beyond all that to extend into the community and become a new cultural hub hosted by the University of Chicago on the city’s South Side.
“The Obama Presidential Center will be a living, working campus — an ongoing project where we will shape, together, what it means to be a good citizen in the 21st century,” says Obama.org. It seems their work is not yet done.
To back that up, the Center will have a two-story public meeting space complete with an auditorium, a broadcast studio, a winter garden and a restaurant, plus there will be a public square and lots of outdoor park space complete with children’s play areas and a sledding hill. To top it off, there will be an athletic facility with a basketball court annnnd…a yoga room! At longtime yoga fan Michelle’s suggestion, no doubt. Most of the grounds will be free and open to the public—essentially begging to be utilized by the public.
The unorthodox move has caught some criticism. A Chicago Tribune columnist whined, “Is [this] how you want to be remembered? As the healthy-eating and meditation-advocating president …”
Uh, like that’s a bad thing. Not everyone’s a fan, but we’re not listening to that noise.
This “campus for active citizenship” might be the first presidential library we’re actively excited about visiting. A meditating president…like a breath of fresh air.
From the very beginning, @BarackObama and I knew the Obama Presidential Center had to be on the South Side. It’s where we met and where our girls were born. It’s home. We’ve been designing the Center as a place that inspires young people and gives them the tools they need to find their voices, then go out and change the world. It will be a place to learn, connect, and have some fun. The South Side will finally have a sledding hill, a vegetable garden like the one we had at the White House, and other attractions for Chicagoans and visitors from around the world to enjoy. Follow the @ObamaFoundation for updates, and let us know what you think!