Who will design the Obama library?

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CHICAGO – It's no secret Chicago's architecture is top notch. But the biggest prize, the Obama presidential library, is yet to be built in either Jackson or Washington parks.

Of the 140 architecture firms from 25 countries applied, seven are finalists. Four from New York, one from Italy – which designed the Art Institute's modern wing – another from London – whose work is being exhibited in the modern wing – and just one from Chicago.

That one is John Ronan, whose work includes the Gary Comer Youth Center.

"It's one of those rare projects that come along only every now and then so there was an incredible amount of enthusiasm I'm sure," Ronan said.

But with such a rich architectural history, with so many firms here, why is just one finalist based here?

Tribune's architecture critic Blair Kamin looks at it this way:

"I think Chicago is a global city ... [I think] meritocracy wins in the long run," Kamin said.

To see the full list of finalists and read Kamin's article, go here.

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