Whitney Young Library Chicago

Chicago, IL

Located in the Chatham neighborhood of Chicago, the existing Whitney M. Young, Jr. Branch Library building required a 11,000 square foot renovation and a 2,500 square foot addition, while respecting its significant history and prominence within the community.

bKL approached the client’s programming and renovation goals responsibly and respectfully while providing the client with a modern and integrated building. Goals included lightening the visual impact of the building, relocating the entry in a way that is secure and welcoming, and adding needed building program and technology.

The existing modernist structure provided a garden space that was immensely underutilized. bKL decided to revive the central garden space and make it an integral part of the building plan, providing an exterior communal space for the library users. This central garden element also provides the ability for light to permeate the surrounding library functions.

Equally important, the creation of an accessible multi-purpose room now provides a space where community activities can be accommodated. Responding to the multi-purpose room’s placement, the floor plan was organized in such a way to provide user groups both separate and individual spaces, while maintaining a cohesive design that is open and light.

Project Area
11,000 square foot renovation
2,500 square foot addition
Johnson & Lee, Ltd, Architect of Record; Larson Engineering, Structural; Terra Engineering, Civil & Landscape; dbHMS, MEP & LEED Consultant; Terracon, Environmental
F.H. Paschen, SN Nielsen & Assoc LLC
Aluminum curtain wall with Low-E vision glass, fritted glass, brick, metal panel canopy, existing waffle slab ceiling, Shaw flooring, Allsteel & Izzy+ furnishings