ChickenSaladbar's project

2017 National DiscoverDesign Competition: Library + Community Space Design


The project is to design a public library that accommodates the Little Italy area of Chicago. It is meant to be more accessible to people within the area and serve as a community and civic center. It should be within walking distance for those who live in the area, including the people attending the university nearby. The library should serve as a place to get together, be able to host a variety of activities and serve as a resource for college students and other neighborhood residents.

The library should offer sufficient reading area in order to have enough print media for the community members as well as spacious areas for teens, children, and adults to use computer resources. It should also provide the community with areas for meetings and conferences.

Collect Info

The people of the Little Italy community of Chicago, Illinois are typically between the ages of 20 to 35 years of age. A vast majority of the residents study at the University of Illinois in Chicago. the income is higher than the average and this can be to the fact that about 60% of these residents hold a bachelor's degree and/or some college education. Oftentimes, students study at libraries and search for community meeting areas. The older population is in need of technological resources and thus search for a place to acquire skills in the use of computers. There is no current makerspace in the surrounding area of the proposed library building.

Brainstorm Ideas

The main factor I want to focus on are Jane Addams’s hull houses. Hull houses were established by her using her inheritance and were meant to help European immigrants get settled and learn how to do a number of things including reading. Italian immigrants made up a large percentage of the immigrants the hull houses would help. Not coincidentally, the majority of the hull houses are located in the historic Little Italy.

The majority of hull houses had a red brick facade and cornices adorning the top. Some of them included columns. For my design, I’m thinking of integrating some of these elements to give the building a historic look so it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb in the neighborhood. I’ll use red brick and add decorative cornices as a tribute to the hull houses Jane Addams helped to establish.

Develop Solutions

For my design, I decided to give the building a generally rectangular footprint to maximize space usage and resemble a hull house. The rectangular footprint makes it easier to place rooms that are practical and can be used for universal purposes. In the entrance, I will make a trapezoidal vestibule to give the building more visual interest. It also resembles a lot of the local architecture which includes bay windows with that shape.

The interior of my building has a more modern design than the exterior. This is designed this way to resemble a lot of the renovated buildings in Chicago.

Final Design

My final design ended up being universal. It has access to all floors through either stairs or elevators for those that can’t take stairs. It’s also very eco-friendly in that it has plenty of green spaces for people to enjoy. Surrounding the third floor, where all the children will be, I added a large balcony that serves as a garden in order to encourage children to go out and enjoy their surroundings.

My design also includes a lot of openings down to other levels to give the building a more connected feeling and not isolate any groups specifically. The openness gives the building a larger feeling while simultaneously creating cozier feelings in areas with normal ceiling heights.

I made the stairs curved to bring attention to them since they are the only curved element in my building. They are located centrally so they can be sought easily in case of emergencies.