Community Leaders Skeptical About New Obama Center Garage Design

A revised design for the Obama Presidential Center’s controversial parking garage is getting a thumbs-down from some community leaders who attended a closed-door meeting at which the plan was unveiled.

Like its predecessor, the new design calls for an aboveground two-story garage, concealed by landscaping, at the east end of the Midway Plaisance, the mile-long strip of land that connects Jackson and Washington parks.

But the new design eliminates features like a children’s play area and replaces them with a grass-covered slope that would rise higher than the embankment for the adjacent Shore South Line railroad tracks. The gently-sloping landscape would be taller than the previous plan and would allow people to gaze over the Midway to the west or across Jackson Park to the east.

“It’s going to be a spectacular place for sitting on the lawn, laying a blanket out. It’s a prospect,” the plan’s landscape architect, Brooklyn-based Michael Van Valkenburgh, said in a telephone interview before the meeting.

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