Mayor Rahm Emanuel, with Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon, and Chicago-based real estate investment and development company Sterling Bay today opened the brand new West Loop Library at 122 N. Aberdeen Street. The new facility, made possible by Sterling Bay’s property and construction service donation, is the 81st branch of the Chicago Public Library system and the first new service point since 2011.
“The Chicago Public Library system provides a vital community anchor for families to gather, students to get homework help and job-seekers to connect with life-changing opportunities,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The new West Loop library branch is a proud example of how city officials come together with private partners to build strong neighborhoods, and provide a place for all community residents to gather, share and succeed.”
The new library features marquis 21st century library programs and services, including first floor spaces equipped with various multimedia technology, an Early Learning Play Space and a YOUmedia digital lab featuring coding and design software, vinyl cutters for printing custom graphics and an on-site recording studio.
“We could not be more thrilled to cut the ribbon on our 81st location,” said Library Commissioner Brian Bannon. “Branch libraries are essential neighborhood anchors in their communities, and we look forward to deepening our engagement in this rapidly growing area of the city.”
Free homework help will be provided by a Teacher in the Library and CyberNavigators will offer computer classes and one-on-one coaching to build digital literacy, technology and job-seeking skills for adults and seniors. Traditional library programs, such as book clubs and educational and cultural programming will also be available. The second floor of the building has flexible work space like community meeting space and study rooms.
“Our team at Sterling Bay is honored to provide the West Loop community with a state-of-the-art public library that fosters learning at all age levels and delivers valuable resources to strengthen both individual and neighborhood development,” says Andy Gloor, Managing Principal. “We can’t think of a better way to give back to the community that has so generously supported our company’s growth and vision throughout the years.”
Designed by the Chicago-based architecture and design firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), the 16,500-square-foot facility will showcase a façade featuring weathered steel and an interior that pays homage to the West Loop’s factory-warehouse history by highlighting the building’s original bow-truss ceilings and skylights to create a light-filled loft-like space. The building was formerly part of Harpo studios.
The West Loop Library branch was funded in part through the Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus Fund and private donations.
“The West Loop -- Fulton Market, in particular -- is arguably Chicago’s fastest-growing and developing neighborhood,” said Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr. “We’re extremely excited about the opportunity that Sterling Bay has provided to equip our rapidly evolving residential community with dynamic, versatile multimedia amenities that will open minds and change lives in our district for many years to come.”
This branch library is part of the CPL “Branching Out: Building Libraries, Building Communities” initiative to develop and modernize community libraries throughout the city. Branching Out focuses on investing in key areas of neighborhood libraries including: modern facilities and infrastructure, and high quality programming with librarians and administrators. Since 2011, 6 new libraries have been built, significant updates have been made at 14 branches and more than $275 million in new investments have been made. By 2019, an additional 5 new libraries will be built, and renovations at 4 libraries will be complete.
A family and community celebration day, including performances and activities for kids, teens, and adults, will be held on Saturday, January 26.