William J. Clinton Presidential Center
The luminous presidential library formally and programmatically expresses the optimism and achievements of the Clinton administration. The accessibility, openness and singularity of the building and park design together exemplify an architecture of democracy.
Our design explorations led to a crystalline bridge, with formal and material qualities that resolve the inherent tension between monumentality and physical and intellectual accessibility.
The main body of the Center is elevated off the ground plane, allowing the new park to flow uninterrupted underneath and emphasizing the public nature of the site.
Clad in glass and metal, the building’s bold cantilevered form emphasizes connections and is both a reference to Little Rock’s distinctive “Six Bridges” and a metaphor for the President’s progressive ideals. Its principal interior feature is a naturally-lit, 240-foot-long, forty-foot-high exhibition space.
Reinforcing urban design goals to reclaim and transform a derelict area, the building is oriented perpendicular to the River: its link to downtown is manifest, with the principal entrance on axis with the city’s main thoroughfare.
[The building] is the symbol of not only what I tried to do but what I want to do with the rest of my life – building bridges from yesterday to tomorrow.
Linked to the main building, the Archive is both research center and a secure environment for the documents and objects of the Clinton Administration. Two historic structures expand the complex’s outreach and further its connection to the city.
Transformed into a pedestrian crossing, the Rock Island Railroad Bridge links the site to North Little Rock. The refurbished 1899 Choctaw Station houses the Clinton Public Policy Institute and Clinton School of Public Service.
- Little Rock, AR
- 167,000 square feet
- 28-Acre Public Park; Museum: Orientation Theater, Permanent and Temporary Exhibit Spaces, Great Hall, Cafè, Classrooms, Replica Oval Office and Executive Apartment; Archives: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Research and Storage Facilities; Choctaw Station: The University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, the Clinton Public Policy Institute, and the Clinton Presidential Foundation
- LEED Silver (subsequently awarded LEED Platinum EB)
- Ennead Design Team
- Richard Olcott, James S. Polshek, 1930-2022, Joseph Fleischer, Kevin McClurkan, Molly McGowan, Kate Mann, Megan Miller, Christen Johansen, Charmian Place, Felicia Berger, Tanya Chan, Andrew Comfort, Brad Groff, Elliott Hodges, Oneka Horne, Katharine Huber, Steven Joyce, Jörg Kiesow, Jihyon Kim, Kwansoo Kim, Chris Koon, Kathleen Kulpa, Amy Lin, Scott Melancon, Tala Mikdashi, Edgar Papazian, Michael Regan, James Rhee, William Rosebro, Mary Rowe, Jill Sicinski, Oliver Sippl, Brian Slocum, Crystal Son, David Wallance, Robert Young
- Associate Architects
- Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects, WER Architects/Planners (Witsell Evans Rasco), Woods & Caradine Architects
- Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Inc.
- Photography / Videography
- Michael Hibblen, Timothy Hursley, Albert Vecerka/Esto, William J. Clinton Foundation, Aislinn Weidele/Ennead Architects
- AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects, Honorable Mention
- AIA/ALA Library Building Award
- AIA National Honor Award for Architecture
- Gold Award, The American Council of Engineering Companies of New York (ACEC New York)
- Honor Award, AIA/New York Chapter
- Award for Excellence in Design, AIA/New York State
- Gold 2005, Industrial Design Excellence Awards (IDEA)
- Middleton, William. "Exploring Twelve Monumental U.S. Presidential Libraries" (Architectural Digest, 4/27/2013)
- Walker, Anna. "What do Presidential Libraries Say About Their Namesakes' Legacies?" (Fast Company, 11/20/2009)
- Pearson, Clifford A. "Polshek Partnership's Clinton Library Connects with Little Rock and the Body Politic" (Architectural Record, 1/2005)
- Forgey, Benjamin. "Clinton Library Builds Bridges" (The Washington Post, 11/27/2004)
- Kamin, Blair. "The Clinton presidential library is a bridge to the future," (Chicago Tribune, 11/14/2004)
- Kates, Brian. "Clinton was 'perfect client,' architect says, " (New York Daily News, 11/14/2004)
- Komaiko, Leslee. "Transparent Government, Civic is thrilling at the Clinton Library" (Los Angeles Times, 10/10/2004)
- McGuigan, Cathleen. "Bill's New Bridge" (Newsweek, 9/13/2004)
- Ouroussoff, Nicolai. "An Earnest Building for a Complex President" (The New York Times, 11/25/2004)
- Seele, Katharine . "A Presidential Fraternity Helps Clinton Open Library in Arkansas" (The New York Times, 11/19/2004)