Courtney Ewin's Chicago Library

2017 National DiscoverDesign Competition: Library + Community Space Design


I am to design a public library on a 75’x125’ lot in the Little Italy neighborhood of Chicago that will allow the people living around the public space to walk to it. The problem currently is that there is not a library within walking distance of most houses. I am designing for these people and the Chicago Housing Authority and Chicago Public Library.


Collect Info

The approximate address of the street is 1340 West Taylor Street in Chicago, Illinois 60607. The site measures 75’x125’ with the total lot size being 9,375 square feet. The site is currently a parking lot, but a new mixed used building has been proposed by City of Chicago for the same site. Chicago Public Libraries are open, public spaces that provide free resources for our communities. The libraries may contain facilities such as an information center, a children’s area, an adult reading room, teen media rooms, and community meeting spaces. The CPL’s goal is to encourage interaction within the community by creating more open spaces and transparency in their buildings. This will also increase the richness of interactions among patrons and their local communities.

Brainstorm Ideas

At the beginning of this project, I made a list of things I wanted and needed. I knew I wanted to have the adult and children's areas separated with stairs in each area going up to the next floor with even more books specified to them. To do so , I grouped rooms based on how they would best fit into each other using a bubble diagram. When doing my site analysis, I made sure to pay attention to the traffic, where the sun falls, and what buildings were surrounding the site.

Develop Solutions

I put the entrance to my building looking out on West Taylor Street so that anyone walking by would have easy access into the library. On the first floor, there is an area for the adult reading section (on the left) on the children's reading section (on the right). Also on the first floor, the meeting rooms are towards the back of the building. Going to the second floor, there is an office for workers and more space for the adult and children's reading areas. On the third floor, it is completely for the teenagers and has a lot of reading space and natural light. The third floor also has the top patio with outdoor seating.

Final Design

With this eye-catching structure, the community will feel welcomed to come in because of the natural design it has to it. The white brick really contrasts with the other dark buildings surrounding it and the tall windows allow outsiders to peer in and see a place to gather. With the open spaces inside the library, the community of Little Italy won't hesitate to walk in the door and commute with others. This library makes new history for these people because it is one of the first modern-contemporary buildings in the neighborhood to allow for a place to gather and read.