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Obama Foundation Releases New Details on Athletic and Programs Facility at the Obama Presidential Center

CHICAGO, IL — The Obama Foundation recently released new details and renderings of the Home Court, an athletic, programs, and event facility at the Obama Presidential Center. Nestled at the southwest corner of the 19.3-acre Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park, the Home Court — the largest gathering space on the campus — will serve as a place for health and wellness activities, events, and a wide range of opportunities for community engagement.

As a 45,000-square-foot multipurpose athletic and events space, the Home Court features a gymnasium with a regulation-size NBA court with intersecting practice courts, flexible seating, exercise training space, and fitness equipment. This space will accommodate everything from enriching basketball and other sports programs to large events and formal banquets. A mezzanine level overlooks the space and provides additional seating for an intimate spectator experience. An expansive east-facing glass facade — which is fritted to protect birds by preventing them from striking it — provides views to the entire campus to the north.

“From the outset, President Obama knew he wanted our Home Court to be a place where people could come for fun, inspiration, and learning — the kind of community spaces we need in an inclusive democracy,” Obama Foundation CEO Valerie Jarrett said. “We intend for it to be an extraordinary resource to our community that will allow families to improve their health and wellness, and participate in educational and career readiness programming all in hopes of building a brighter, healthier future.”

The facility is being built by Elevate Design Builders, a joint firm led by Bowa Construction, an African American-owned construction management firm headquartered in Chicago on South Stony Island, and AECOM/Hunt. Moody Nolan, the largest African American design firm in the United States, is the design partner for the Elevate design-build team. The selection of Elevate and Moody Nolan is consistent with the foundation’s efforts to ensure leadership and decision-making positions related to the Home Court build are provided to inclusive firms.

The Home Court design is inspired by two of 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.

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“Our firm is incredibly proud to lead the efforts to build an athletic center, programs, and events facility for President Obama, a man who has inspired my generation and countless others. I am personally honored to contribute to a legacy of empowerment and progress, driving positive change for our community and beyond,” said Nosa Ehimwenman, Founder of BOWA Construction.

“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 Renauld Deandre Mitchell, Partner and Director of Chicago Operations at Moody Nolan. “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. We at Moody Nolan are honored to partner with the Obama Foundation in this most important work.”

“Designing the Home Court for the Obama Foundation is not just about creating a building; it’s about shaping a legacy,” said Curt Moody, Founder and Chairman of the Board for Moody Nolan. “It’s about honoring the past, empowering the present, and inspiring future generations. This project represents an opportunity to contribute to the narrative of progress and unity that defines our nation’s history, and I am deeply humbled to be part of this transformative endeavor.”

The space is also being designed to be consistent with the foundation’s sustainability goals for the campus. Visitors will be welcomed into a two-story lobby, which will shed bright natural light on many of the interior spaces of the building. Like the rest of the campus, the Home Court will be heated and cooled primarily through the use of geothermal energy, which is a key part of the campus-wide strategy to avoid the use of fossil fuels.

To inform programming needs on site, the foundation is working with local community organizations including the YMCA, XS Tennis, Project Swish, Southside Wolfpack, Girls in the Game, and After School Matters to gather suggestions on programming that will be additive and complementary to opportunities already provided to young people in the community. In addition, the foundation hosted focus groups with young people from the south and west sides and administered a survey to youth grades 3-12 to ensure their voices are also informing the activities planned for the site.

The community inputs received indicate a strong desire for:

  • Opportunities to play team sports and participate in other physical fitness activities, such as dancing and yoga
  • More access to safe spaces that are available to young people after school and on weekends
  • Leadership and career development programming, for young people to learn skills and gain exposure to career opportunities

The Obama Foundation is also announcing details about the capital campaign supporting the Home Court. HPS Investment Partners, the Knight Foundation, the Nike Foundation, Andy Fang and Carol Zhao, and Arn and Nancy Tellem are among those whose contributions are making the Home Court possible, and allowing the foundation to provide a range of programming opportunities to the local community.

The Home Court will be the first space within the Obama Presidential Center campus to open in late 2025.

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