jasperl2015's project

2017 National DiscoverDesign Competition: Library + Community Space Design


Libraries are staples of their communities that are often integral to the strength of the neighborhood. They are sources of knowledge that are vital because they give provide access to free education. It is important that libraries are accessible to everyone within walking distance so that more people have access to the plethora of knowledge that they hold. Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood is home to not only university students, but also houses families and young people. A library is especially important to this demographic because there are many children and students in the area. A library would give them places to grow and develop their interests, and learn about their world and community. Therefore, this library should have a space for every age group. It needs an area for children where they can learn to read and develop a passion for reading; an area for teenagers to complete their schoolwork and get involved in the local community; and an area for university students and adults to continue learning beyond high school. Because this library is also adjacent to an urban farm/garden, it should provide local residents with a space to learn about urban farming and sustainable agriculture. One of the main goals of a library is to educate people, and urban agriculture is a very important part of our future. It is important to educate the younger generation about this, and this library would be the perfect opportunity to do so because of its proximity to the garden.

Collect Info

The Chicago Public Library's mission statement is to encourage people from all walks of life to gain knowledge through books. They strive to provide equal access to education for everyone. Therefore, this library should strive to be equitable to everyone, regardless of ability and age. It should have resources for everyone to read, learn, and discover. The neighborhood of Little Italy is filled with families and college students. In fact, it is right in the heart of the University of Chicago campus. This means that there are a lot of students in the area, and these students will need a place to learn and congregate. There are also several shops and restaurants surrounding the library, so there will likely be lots of young people that visit. These demographics can tie into the Chicago Public Library's message because there needs to be a space in the library for every age group, including young people. There should also not only be quiet spaces, but also areas for students to gather or work on group projects. This will help make the library a safe space for everyone.

Brainstorm Ideas

The first part of my brainstorming process was to look for inspiration in other structures. I researched innovative libraries and buildings that incorporated grass and vegetation into the structure. After I became inspired by other buildings, I began to think of my own design. When brainstorming ideas for this library, I started first by creating a list of all the important spaces that the library needs. I then converted this list into a bubble diagram, and used that to create ideas. The core of my designs is that the building should look like it is part of the landscape. This is why many of my designs look like the building is coming from or part of the ground. I wanted to create this look because I thought it would make the building not only blend with its surroundings, but have a more unique and organic look to it. Despite the building's look on the outside, however, I wanted to make sure that the inside was equally as well designed. The library needs to be a pleasant space for everyone to read and learn. I made sure to maximize the amount of natural light to create a more pleasant atmosphere for readers, and to make the building more environmentally friendly. Shown below are three of the original designs I came up with that show my thought process when creating this library.

Develop Solutions

During this step, I began to flesh out my ideas into a concrete structure. I started by making a concept model of my design from chipboard, so that I would have a solid 3D model to create from. I then created drawings of the layout of the inside so that I could integrate all the important spaces from my bubble diagram. I used this layout to create a rendering of the outside. Additionally, I researched specific design details that would positively benefit my library. One of the most important details was the green wall, which I found could have many benefits in a building. The develop solutions step for me was a way to gain a more complete image of my idea before I created the final design.

Final Design

My design benefits the local neighborhood because it not only provides a safe, educational environment for all ages, but also engages with the community. The floorplan of the building is wide and open, which symbolizes that is is free for everyone to learn. To get from floor to floor in this building, there is a huge ramp that can be seen from the outside of the building. One of the main ideas in the Chicago Public Library mission statement is equality, and this feature is accessible to everyone because it is usable by those in wheelchairs. There are an abundance of students in the area, and this library is welcoming to them because it provides places to study (alone or in a group), to learn new hobbies, and, of course, to foster a love of reading. It also connects to the urban garden adjacent to the building. On top of the building there are green spaces, and inside there is a green wall that community members can help maintain. The design encourages those who use the urban garden to utilize the library, and those who are regular library attendees to connect with the urban farm.


Competition Jury 6 months ago
Interesting form and good incorporation of landscape urbanism. -AR
Competition Jury 6 months ago
This is definitely one of the more out of the box ideas. She was really thinking about sustainability. And I really liked the model she built -AR
Competition Jury 6 months ago
The process was very good. The rawness of the renderings is very nice for this project. -SS
Competition Jury 6 months ago
The student didn’t work within the parameters of the lot - Competition Jury