The Obama Presidential Center in Chicago has yet to break ground, however, plans for the building have already caused backlash toward the former president and the building’s planners.
A “test kitchen” proposed in the monument’s plans are at the center of the multiple critiques hurled toward the planners.
As noted by Fox News, in late-2017 there were reports that the monument would include a museum, a basketball court, a room for yoga and a test kitchen to teach visitors about the importance of a healthy diet.
The latter was panned by Chicago Tribune columnist Ron Grossman who chided the president for the lackluster additions proposed for the center in a piece titled, “Please, Mr. Obama, skip the test kitchen, make it a museum.”
“My problem isn’t the design, though the centerpiece is a tower, heavy around the midsection and tapering to a narrow top and bottom. To me, it evokes a soft-boiled egg in a giant eggcup,” Grossman wrote.
“What brought me up short was a space in the adjoining Forum building labeled ‘test kitchen,'” he continued. “Presumably that reflects Michelle Obama’s war on junk food. The museum’s champions similarly suggest it could host yoga classes.”
He then questioned the president directly: “President Obama, is that how you want to be remembered? As the healthy-eating and meditation-advocating president?”
Fox News noted that the test kitchen is likely an ode to former first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign that focused on establishing healthy eating habits in children.
Though Michelle Obama’s campaign could be described as noble, it isn’t the legacy Grossman believes the duo should be focusing on leaving behind.
“That’s not how I want the story to come down to my grandchildren’s children,” the Chicago Tribune columnist wrote. “One of my daughters and her future husband drove through the night to be at your 2009 inauguration. They didn’t know, or care, where they’d sleep in Washington.”
“They and myriad others wanted to witness a historic occasion: the redemption of the Declaration of Independence’s promise that ‘all men are created equal,'” he added. “That’s the story your museum needs to tell.”
The Washington Post reported in November that the former president’s monument has faced multiple roadblocks.
In an attempt to save areas of Jackson Park, non-profit organization Friends of the Parks reportedly jockeyed to have the center built on a plot of vacant land across from a different Chicago park.
Also, local residents raised concerns regarding traffic problems that the center would create as well as how the project would bring employment to the area.
“It wouldn’t be Chicago if we didn’t have complaints about everything. . . . People are definitely excited about the library, without a doubt, but they are concerned about ‘how does it impact me?’ ” Ayoka Mota Samuels, an Obama fan and project booster, said. “Chicagoans are like that about everything.”
Samuels also assured that the pushback is due to residents caring deeply about their city.
“It means that we care about what’s going to happen in our neighborhood,” she said.
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