Harold Washington Library Center
Harold Washington Library Center Design/Build Competition
In 1987, Mayor Harold Washington ordered a design/build competition for a new central library in the South Loop. The City Council authorized the competition and the $144 million bond issue to finance the project on July 29 of that year. The rules of this competition required teams of architects and builders to submit bids limiting the maximum cost to the city.
The five finalist entries received robust response when unveiled to the public on May 15, 1988.
The SEBUS Group (winner)
U.S. Equities, Developers; with Hammond, Beeby & Babka, Inc., Design Architects; Schal Associates, Inc., General Contractors; A. Epstein and Sons, International, Architects of Record and Structural Engineer; Delon Hampton & Associates, Architects & Engineers.
The Chicago Library Team
with Tishman Midwest Management Group, Developers; Murphy/Jahn, Architects; Paschen Contractors, Inc., General Contractors.
with Metropolitan Structures, Developers and Contractors; Lohan Associates, Architects; Chris P. Stefanos Associates, Structural Engineering.
John Buck Company
Developers; Vickrey/Oversat/Awsumb Associates, Inc., Architects; Arthur Erickson Architects Ltd. (Canada), Architects; Turner Construction Company, Contractors.
Library ’88 Partnership
with Stein & Company, Developers; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Architects; Legoretta Arquitectos, A.C., Architects; Morse/Diesel, Inc., Construction Management.
These architectural models are located on the eighth floor of the Harold Washington Library Center, except the SEBUS entry, which is located in Special Collections on the ninth floor.
Mayor Washington selected the following individuals to compose the 11-member citizen jury:
- As chairman, Norman Ross, a retired vice president of the First National Bank of Chicago and a longtime civic leader
- Lerone Bennett, Jr., a former Chicago Public Library Board member, historian and executive editor of Ebony magazine
- Henry N. Cobb, a partner in the architectural firm of I.M. Pei of New York
- Milton Davis, board chairman, South Shore Bank
- Hardy R. Franklin, director of the Washington, D.C., public library system
- Oscar L. Martinez, associate director of the University of Illinois school of dentistry’s Urban Health Program and also an artist
- Marian “Cindy” Pritzker, a Chicago Public Library Board director
- Hipolito “Paul” Rodan, executive director, Hispanic Housing Development Corporation
- Vincent J. Scully, Jr., a Yale University professor of art history and noted architectural expert
- Tom Ping, a lawyer and businessman
- David T. Van Zanten, professor of art history at Northwestern University
Based on both design and cost criteria, the citizen jury selected the design by Thomas Beeby from Hammond, Beeby & Babka, Inc. as the winner on June 20, 1988. The design/build teams that were not selected were given $100,000 each from the city. The Harold Washington Library Center bears the name of the man who envisioned the Library as an anchor for South Loop redevelopment.
Groundbreaking and Dedication
Groundbreaking took place on October 13, 1988, using imported soil because the location was an asphalt-covered parking lot. The Harold Washington Library Center Construction Photographs, 1988-1991 archival collection documents the construction of the Harold Washington Library Center, with both interior and exterior shots showing all aspects of the building’s construction. Mayor Richard M. Daley, the Library Board and staff joined with the public and dignitaries for the dedication on October 4, 1991, and the Library opened to the public on October 7, 1991.