Moody Nolan unveils design of athletic facility at Obama presidential campus


The Obama Foundation and US architecture studio Moody Nolan have released images of an athletic facility to be built on the Obama Presidential Center campus in Chicago.

Called Home Court, the building will host a regulation-size NBA basketball court, sports facilities and community spaces and serve as a wellness and gathering hub.

People gathered on a campus
Moody Nolan has unveiled designs for a sports and community centre at the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago

Located on the southwest corner of the in-progress, 19.3-acre (7.8 hectare) Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park, the athletics centre will be the first space to open on the campus.

“The Home Court will support the Center’s mission as a forum for community, connection, and civic engagement with a focus on promoting well-being – inspiring hope and improving lives for generations to come,” said Moody Nolan director of Chicago operations Renauld Deandre Mitchell.

“The process of architectural design embodies these values, for it is an act of hope – the outcome of which endures as a conversation between what is seen and how it is experienced.”

People walking on streetPeople walking on street
It will host an NBA-sized basketball court, gym facilities and gathering spaces

Moody Nolan designed the 45,000-square-foot (4,180 square metres) facility to reflect two “personal passions” of former US President Barack Obama.

The Home Court design is inspired by two of President Obama’s personal passions – basketball and building community – with a sleek metal and glass panel exterior patterned to be a metaphor for a basketball net and community connection,” said the team.

Renderings show a rectangular, winged building where each side dips to meet at the centre. On either end, the facades are glazed, with a two-tiered terrace at the front and a double-height space clad in a curtain wall at the back.

Wedges of textured metal fold over the building’s exterior.

A winged sports facility buildingA winged sports facility building
It is located in a corner of the greater presidential campus

The facility’s basketball court will be located at the back, with the expansive curtain wall looking out over the neighbouring lagoon and Lake Michigan.

The court will be lined with a second-floor mezzanine.

Obama Presidential Campus in ChicagoObama Presidential Campus in Chicago
The building will join a museum, library and forum building planned for the site

Visitors will enter the building through a double-height lobby and other programming will include training spaces, exercise equipment, and community spaces.

Interior renderings show a variety of rooms marked with a grey and black palette and lined with light wood panelling throughout.

People playing basketballPeople playing basketball
Its basketball court will contain a mezzanine level

The Obama Foundation is working with local chapters of institutions such as the YMCA and Girls in the Game to inform the interior programming, with participants requesting spaces for physical fitness activities, team sports and career development with after-school and weekend accessibility.

Sustainable design strategies include geothermal heating and cooling, according to the team and an array of solar panels are pictured on the roof.

A looby with staircaseA looby with staircase
A double-height lobby will welcome visitors

“Designing the Home Court for the Obama Foundation is not just about creating a building,” said Moody Nolan founder Curt Moody. “This project represents an opportunity to contribute to the narrative of progress and unity that defines our nation’s history.”

Moody Nolan will work with builders Elevate Design Builders and AECOM Hunt on the building, which is expected to open in late 2025.

It is part of the larger Obama Presidential Center campus designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects with Interactive Design Architects (IDEA).

Currently under construction with an opening date set for 2026, the campus will include a monolithic stone-clad museum, the Obama Presidential Library and a public forum building with an L-shaped footprint.

Greenspaces and other work, such as a recently announced sculpture by artist Maya Lin, will infill the exterior spaces.

The designs for the campus were revealed in 2017 after Obama invited New York studios Diller Scofidio + Renfro, SHoP Architects and Scandinavian firm Snøhetta to pitch for the project.

People gathered for an eventPeople gathered for an event
The main court will also host events

At the time of the project’s presentation to the Chicago City Council in 2018,  Cultural Landscape Foundation president Charles A Birnbaum discussed the repercussions of the campus being built on top of a Fredrick Law Olmsted-designed park.

A most recent construction update notes that the “crews continue to make steady progress on the concrete structure of the Museum Building” and both the forum and library are in progress.

The images are courtesy of the Obama Foundation



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