Column: An Obama tower in an Olmsted park? Yes, but design still needs refinement

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Press Coverage

Column: An Obama tower in an Olmsted park? Yes, but design still needs refinement

Column: An Obama tower in an Olmsted park? Yes, but design still needs refinement
Jan 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

To opponents of the project, like the Washington, D.C.-based Cultural Landscape Foundation, the plan represents the potential desecration of a treasured park. After the new design was released last week, the foundation called the plan a “confiscation of public parkland” by a private entity and brandished an age-old quotation from Olmsted as though it were Holy Writ.

When the Palace of Fine Arts (now the Museum of Science and Industry) became a permanent part of Jackson Park after the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, Olmsted accepted that the Beaux Arts structure should be “a dominating object of interest,” but he added that all other buildings should be “subordinate to the scenery of the park.”

Williams and Tsien clearly do not feel bound by that point of view, nor are they following the Cultural Landscape Foundation’s suggestion that modesty, rather than monumentality, should guide the design of the entire presidential center.