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The Clinton Presidential Center: World Class Architecture and Presidential Library in the Heart of Little Rock, Arkansas

Updated on May 22, 2016

There it is, the Clinton Presidential Center. If you’re curious, the George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush Presidential Libraries look more traditional possibly a reflection of their more conservative outlook. Here’s the Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston:


Looks Space Age, a fitting tribute to a President who encouraged his countrymen to reach for the stars. We’ll get another one soon with President Obama planning to build one in Chicago, but we don’t know what it will look like yet.

Designed by architects James Polshek and Richard Olcott, President Clinton’s Library is built to resemble a bridge from the past into the future, and it’s the winner of the American Institute of Architect’s highest Award in 2006. A handsome building but also an environmentally friendly one, it’s LEED certified complete with a green roof that conserves energy, reduces storm-water runoff, and provides a wildlife habitat. There’s even a restaurant inside called Forty Two that’s open for lunch with the rest of the time being available for events and official gatherings. It also has a Museum Store, but it’s located in another building in Little Rock two blocks from the Presidential Center itself.

The exhibits at the Clinton Presidential Library feature the momentous and important accomplishments of President Clinton’s tenure. Temporary exhibits also go up yearly at the Clinton Presidential Center with the current one featuring dinosaurs. 3.3 million people have visited the Clinton Presidential Center since its opening in 2004 boosting the Little Rock economy with tourism dollars. Not only that, with its construction, the Clinton Presidential Center also helped revitalize the formerly moribund River Market area of Little Rock. The area once held only derelict buildings and empty streets, but now, the River Market District of Little Rock hosts plenty of attractions like the Ottenheimer Market Hall — a public farmer’s market, the Riverfront Park, the Little Rock main public library – converted from an old warehouse, the Arkansas Studies Center, the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center, the First Security Amphitheatre along with plenty of restaurants and shops. The American Planning Association awarded President Clinton Avenue in the River Market District one of the “10 Great Streets of 2009.”

The Clinton Presidential Center also runs the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service offering the first of its kind Masters of Public Service. It’s located on the grounds of the Clinton Presidential Center in the Choctaw Station building, a renovated train station.


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