CPL, CHA Announce Winning Design Firms for Innovative Co-Located Housing/Library Developments

Architecture Firms with Strong Ties to Chicago Will Bring World-Class Design to Community Anchors for Neighborhoods

Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) CEO Eugene Jones, Jr., Chicago Public Library (CPL) Commissioner Brian Bannon and Chicago Department of Planning and Development (DPD) Commissioner David Reifman today announced the selection of the architecture firms that will work with communities to design co-located housing and library developments in three communities in the city. The selection of the firms follows a design competition to identify the most innovative ideas that will ensure that each community will have a design that best reflects its needs.

“We are fortunate to have award-winning and internationally recognized firms designing the next great civic projects here in Chicago,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “We are one of the first cities using this type of model between housing and libraries to benefit and beautify our neighborhoods.”

The three architecture firms selected are:

  • John Ronan Architects for the Independence Branch at 4022 N. Elston in the Irving Park community. The firm designed the Gary Comer Youth Center in the Greater Grand Crossing community, South Shore International College Preparatory High School in the South Shore community and the Poetry Foundation in the River North Community.
  • Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) for the Roosevelt Branch near Taylor and Ada streets on the Near West Side. This project is part of the CHA’s ongoing redevelopment of the Roosevelt Square community. SOM designed the award-winning Chinatown Branch Library and two of Chicago’s most notable buildings: The Richard J. Daley Center and John Hancock Center.
  • Perkins+Will for the Northtown Branch at Western and Pratt avenues in the West Ridge community. The firm designed both the original and new Jones College Preparatory High School in the South Loop community, the Rush University Medical Center and Campus Transformation project on the West Side and more than a dozen libraries, some with mixed-uses, in the United States and Canada.

All three finalists have deep Chicago roots, experience building community-based projects and have led effective community engagement processes for projects such as Chinatown Branch Library, Jones College Preparatory High School and Gary Comer Youth Center that are integral parts of Chicago neighborhoods.

“Libraries make knowledge and learning accessible, and offer a common space for community members of all ages,” said Bannon. “These three firms will bring world-class design to new housing and community anchors so that neighborhood residents can enjoy the best of what design has to offer.”

The architects will work with each project developer and will soon begin the community engagement process with community stakeholders to come up with a final design for each of the buildings that meets the needs of each community. CHA, CPL and DPD will host design workshops within each community where the co-located housing and libraries are planned. Construction is targeted to begin by the end of this year with estimated completion in winter 2018.

“This is another one of the innovative ways that CHA is bringing affordable housing opportunities to all Chicago neighborhoods. We are looking forward to the community engagement process that will help guide the final designs and know they will reflect the unique needs and desires of each community” Jones said.

The winning firms were selected last week following a design competition that included 32 firms submitting initial proposals in response to a Request for Qualifications in late 2016. From there, nine semi-finalists were selected – three for each project – to conceive designs that were judged by an evaluation committee on a variety of criteria, including:

  • The quality and context of the architecture relative to each site
  • The sustainability of the building systems and materials
  • Their respective layout, landscaping and design innovations.

The new library facilities will offer programs and spaces for area children and families as well as CHA. Each branch will include a built-out early childhood active learning space. School-aged children will have access to the Library’s Teacher in the Library program which offers free small one-on-one homework assistance. Teens will have access to technology, resources, and classes that inspire exploration, creativity and learning through the YOUmedia program.

In recent years, CPL has increased technology and workforce programs for adults. These new branches will offer computer classes and one-on-one coaching to build digital literacy and technology skills for adults and seniors. Staff will be trained to connect job-seekers to best-in-class career services provided by workforce development organizations and educational institutions. The Library will also continue to partner with expert workforce organizations to deliver trainings on additional skills, such as resume writing, interview prep and industry-specific skills. Traditional library programs, such as book clubs for seniors and intergenerational educational and cultural programming will also be available to these communities.

About CHA:

The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) helps build vibrant communities across the city. By using housing as a platform, the agency works with a host of key stakeholders to sustain strong neighborhoods to best prepare CHA residents for the global economy on their road toward self-sufficiency. CHA also provides stable, decent, safe and affordable housing to more than 62,000 low-income families and individuals, while supporting healthy communities in neighborhoods throughout Chicago. For more information visit www.thecha.org.

About the Architects:

Perkins+Will: Founded in 1935 in Chicago, Illinois, Perkins+Will now has 21 offices across the United States and Canada. With hundreds of award-winning projects annually, they serve clients in the civil and cultural, corporate and commercial, healthcare, education, science and technology, sports and recreation, and transportation markets.

John Ronan Architects: Founded in 1999, John Ronan Architects is an internationally-recognized design firm based in Chicago and comprised of dedicated design professionals committed to producing architecture of the highest quality, marked by conceptual innovation, exploration of materiality, and a rigorous attention to detail.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) is one of the largest and most influential architecture, interior design, engineering, and urban planning firms in the world. Founded in 1936, we have completed more than 10,000 projects in over 50 countries. They are renowned for our iconic buildings and their commitment to design excellence, innovation, and sustainability.

About Chicago Public Library:

Since 1873, Chicago Public Library (CPL) has encouraged lifelong learning by welcoming all people and offering equal access to information, entertainment and knowledge through innovative services and programs, as well as cutting-edge technology. Through its 80 locations, the Library provides free access to a rich collection of materials, both physical and digital, and presents the highest quality author discussions, exhibits and programs for children, teens and adults. CPL received the Social Innovator Award from Chicago Innovation Awards; won a National Medal for Library Services from the Institute for Museum and Library Services; was named the first-ever winner of the National Summer Learning Association’s Founder’s Award in recognition of its Summer Learning Challenge; and was ranked number one in the U.S., and third in the world, by an international study of major urban libraries conducted by the Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf in Germany. For more information visit www.chipublib.org.