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Design selection process underway for Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library

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Theodore Roosevelt statue

A bronze statue of Theodore Roosevelt in the uniform he wore as a U.S. Army officer stands outside the town theater in downtown Medora.

Twelve architectural firms will vie to design the proposed Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library near Medora.

The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation Board on Monday released the request for qualifications, which outlines basics of the project.

The 2019 Legislature approved a $50 million operations endowment for the library, to be made available only after $100 million is raised for construction. The library honors the 26th president, who ranched and hunted in the Badlands in the 1880s.

The board invited 14 firms that had at some point been under discussion regarding the project to respond. Two of those firms declined to participate due to other projects.

Library CEO Ed O'Keefe said the board will narrow the candidates to three finalists by May 18 and name the architect for the project on Sept. 18.

"It'll probably take us the bulk of the next two, 2 ½ weeks to interview the firms, and then there'll be a deliberative but quick process to narrow the field to three, and then we will announce the three on May 18," he said.

The three finalists will have until mid-July to produce first-round design concepts based on a forthcoming request for proposal. O'Keefe said design concepts will be made public for input.

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The 12 firms are based throughout the U.S., in Boston, Chicago, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas, as well as internationally, in Denmark, France, Italy and Sweden. They are:

  • Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
  • Diller Scofidio + Renfro
  • Ennead
  • Studio Gang
  • Lake | Flato 
  • Henning Larsen 
  • Studio Libeskind
  • MASS Design Group
  • Renzo Piano Building Workshop
  • Selldorf Architects
  • Snøhetta
  • Wingårdhs

"These are A-list, global, exciting, inspirational architects," O'Keefe said. "Just imagining what they could do with this beautiful site next to a national park is hopefully representative of the ambition of the project."

Each of the three finalists will receive a $50,000 honorarium from the foundation to help cover basic costs.

O'Keefe said a fundraising update will "hopefully" come in summer or early fall. The board had planned to make an announcement this week, one year after the library's enabling legislation, but given the coronavirus pandemic, it became "a question of appropriateness," said O'Keefe, who called the library project "an economic stimulus for the state of North Dakota."

In March, the board selected a preferred site for the library: about 60 acres of U.S. Forest Service land west of the Burnings Hills Amphitheater near Medora. O'Keefe said the site acquisition will be about a six-month process, with the land planned to be acquired by the time an architect is hired. 

Two new trustees also have joined the foundation board. They are Mountain Capital LLC Chair and CEO Linda Pancratz, who also serves on the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation Board of Directors, and Eileen Scheel, a board member of the Jeremiah Program Fargo-Moorhead Campus and trustee of the North Dakota State University Foundation Board.

They will serve three-year terms, ending in 2023. 

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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