POLITICS

The Obama Library Might Look Like Something Out Of A Sci-Fi Fever Dream

If Hawaii gets its way, the future Barack Obama Presidential Library will resemble a futuristic oceanside retreat more than a traditional government archive.

Universities in Chicago, Honolulu and New York City are vying for the right to host the Obama library. Earlier this month, committees from each school submitted proposals, and details and renderings are starting to emerge. One of the plans submitted by the University of Hawaii, located in the president's birthplace of Honolulu, includes detailed renderings of a teardrop-shaped structure on the edge of a coral reef. Stunning images from that architectural plan can be seen below.

(Story continues after images.)

  • One of Hawaii's design proposals for the Obama library is to have a building that resembles a teardrop when viewed from above
    Snøhetta/WCIT
    One of Hawaii's design proposals for the Obama library is to have a building that resembles a teardrop when viewed from above.
  • Hawaii's plan is based around the metaphor of a coral reef, a "diverse collective of individuals growing over many generation
    Snøhetta/WCIT
    Hawaii's plan is based around the metaphor of a coral reef, a "diverse collective of individuals growing over many generations."
  • Hawaii's proposal includes building on the edge of a coral reef.
    Snøhetta/WCIT
    Hawaii's proposal includes building on the edge of a coral reef.
  • Hawaii's proposal said the Obama Library would be an "action-oriented, education-based" complex.
    Snøhetta/WCIT
    Hawaii's proposal said the Obama Library would be an "action-oriented, education-based" complex.

From Chicago -- which has long been the favorite for host city, since it's where Obama built his political career, started his family and keeps his private residence -- proposals depict potential land use more than finished building concepts. Both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Chicago are finalists. U of C, where Obama formerly taught at the law school, is viewed as the most likely winner.

U of C's plan is not to house the library on its Hyde Park campus but to build a park-heavy site in a bordering South Side neighborhood that needs the economic boost. Here are some images the school included in its proposal:

  • U of C hopes the Obama Library can be on or near park land on the city's South Side.
    University of Chicago
    U of C hopes the Obama Library can be on or near park land on the city's South Side.
  • A view of U of C's Hyde Park Campus.
    University of Chicago
    A view of U of C's Hyde Park Campus.
  • A east-facing view of the South Side.
    University of Chicago
    A east-facing view of the South Side.
  • A view of downtown Chicago from the U of C campus.
    University of Chicago
    A view of downtown Chicago from the U of C campus.

UIC has proposed a two-site model: a library in the city's economically depressed North Lawndale neighborhood and an institute at the University Village campus. The latter would stretch canopy-like over the expressway.

  • An east-west corridor view from downtown with the library site atop the Eisenhower Expressway.
    UIC
    An east-west corridor view from downtown with the library site atop the Eisenhower Expressway.
  • A view from the subway line on UIC's campus.
    UIC
    A view from the subway line on UIC's campus.
  • An east-west corridor view from North Lawndale.
    UIC
    An east-west corridor view from North Lawndale.
  • On the University of Illinois at Chicago campus.
    UIC
    On the University of Illinois at Chicago campus.

Columbia University in New York City, where Obama was an undergraduate, has been largely mum on plans, though in a statement, the school told The Associated Press it wants to put the library in Manhattanville (also known as West Harlem) at the school's satellite campus.

Though only one city can host the library, the AP notes that Obama could follow President Bill Clinton's lead and place the library in one city and a presidential foundation or institution in another.

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BEFORE YOU GO

  • George Peabody Library, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
    <strong>See More of the <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/most-beautiful-libraries-in-the-world/10">Most Beau
    See More of the Most Beautiful Libraries in the World

    The Peabody Stack Room’s five-tier soaring atrium has wrought-iron balconies and columns so graceful that Nathaniel H. Morison, its first provost, called it a “cathedral of books.” It’s one of America’s most beautiful college libraries, with a setting so gorgeous that weddings and special events are often held here. Bibliophiles come not only for the design but to browse 18th- and 19th-century volumes of archaeology as well as British and American history and literature.

    Photo: Johns Hopkins University
  • The Royal Library Copenhagen, Denmark
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    Known as the Black Diamond, this neo-Modernist building was built in 1999 as an addition to the Royal Library’s original complex. Its striking steel, glass, and black granite structure contains a concert hall, a popular café, and exhibition spaces. The Black Diamond treats visitors to spectacular harbor views and a ceiling fresco by one of Denmark’s most famous artists, Per Kirkeby. Guided tours are available on Saturdays.

    Photo: The Royal Library / Photographic Studio Karsten Bundgaard
  • Clementinum, Prague
    <strong>See More of the <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/most-beautiful-libraries-in-the-world/10">Most Beau
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    The baroque Library Hall, with its rare gilded globes and spectacular frescoes depicting science and art, is just one building in the vast Clementinum complex. Legend says the Jesuits had only one book when they started building the library in 1622; when they were done, the collection had swelled to 20,000 volumes. Labels on the bookshelves are original to the library’s opening, as are volumes with “whitened backs and red marks,” markers left by the Jesuits. Tours run daily.

    Photo: Dreyer s.r.o., www.klementinum.com
  • Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Rio de Janeiro
    <strong>See More of the <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/most-beautiful-libraries-in-the-world/10">Most Beau
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    A group of far-from-home Portuguese immigrants banded together to create a Portuguese library in 1837, although construction on the Real Gabinete Português de Leitura didn’t get going until 1880. The neo-Manueline building’s limestone façade showcases Portuguese explorers like Prince Henry the Navigator, Vasco da Gama, and Pedro Álvares Cabral in sculpture. The cathedral-like reading room has a stained-glass dome and wooden galleries. Its ornate bookshelves hold the largest collection of Portuguese literature outside of the motherland. Open Monday to Friday.

    Photo: Ingolf Pompe 57 / Alamy
  • Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
    <strong>See More of the <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/most-beautiful-libraries-in-the-world/10">Most Beau
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    When the original library burned down in 1814, Thomas Jefferson seeded a new one with his own much broader collection of books. Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, stands guard in mosaic form above the main reading room, and scrolls, books, and torches pop up throughout the Library of Congress. Highlights include the main reading room, the Gutenberg Bible (one of 42 left in the world), and free classical concerts. Open Monday to Saturday.

    Photo: Kumar Sriskandan / Alamy
  • Musashino Art University Museum and Library, Tokyo
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    Presenting the most library-like library ever: Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto designed the Art University’s 26,900-square-foot space to be constructed from light-wood bookshelves walled in with glass. Even the stairs have built-in shelves, though they’re currently empty. Compared by Fujimoto to “a forest of books,” the building stands as a powerful visual testament to the bound book’s enduring power. The museum and library are open to visitors; hours vary.

    Photo: VIEW Pictures Ltd / Alamy
  • New York Public Library (Stephen A. Schwarzman Building)
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    A grand hall lit by massive windows and imposing chandeliers, the Rose Main Reading Room stretches approximately two city blocks. It’s a required stop for visitors, who can also peek at murals by New York artist Richard Haas in the Periodicals Room. Free one-hour tours of the library are available 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. every day except Sunday; rotating exhibitions have included an original Bill of Rights and “Why Children’s Books Matter.”

    Photo: The New York Public Library