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Bēhance

Chicago Public Library

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  • Chicago District Library
    Re-imagining what the public library can be
  • Three sites sit vacant around a common corner on a developing commercial corridor close to Chicago. In addition to the open lots, an old raised rail line cuts through one site and behind another, while the L train line passes 30 feet overhead. The abandoned rail line is becoming dear to the local residents as a public path for walking and booking and will soon be renovated while the open lots have become a sort of unofficial park during the summer months. 

    The district library is an excellent opportunity to renovate the park and trail and provide new connections that can combine to make a large public space that can become a new center for activity in this neighborhood. As one looks at closer detail of these neighborhoods that meet at this intersection, the connections aspire for something that is more than just bridging a street. This library has the potential to bridge differences in class, race, and quality of life. Having this central gathering space would provide a potentially diverse and vibrantly active new space for the city.

    The driving themes for me in this project were transparency and accessibility; transparency of the public institution and accessibility to information. What that became for me was a public space that acts as a roof to the library and programs below and simultaneously as a park above. The important new experiential quality that this space adds is transparency. Where people might sit or gather the ground would be planted soil, but where various types of circulation occur the floor/roof will be transparent. 

    The library program below will take advantage of the transparent roof by having a very open plan that terraces upward from a floor below ground to street level. This transition underground is paralleled above by the roof terracing up from ground level to meet the trail which is 15' feet above ground level.
  • Surface Plan with lines of potential circulation marked around diagrams of potential activities. The surface is meant to be an entirely public surface, fully accessible to all.
  • This is the children's section of the library on the southern most tip of the building. This is farthest from the entrance for added security for parents of small children and designed to be in a great spot to view the L train going by for added entertainment for the children.
  • This project included an extensive study of the use of cracking and voronoi cell patterns in divising a way to visualize an irregular structural system to hold up the floor/roof. Above is a diagram from my final board that describes the process of making a voronoi cell pattern. For this surface, the voronoi pattern was based on points that related to the centers of program happening below. After larger cells were created using the voronoi, each cell was then broken up into smaller cells using the voronoi again. This study was still ongoing when I had to stop designing and present so the above is in mid-study.
  • Basement Plan
  • Street Level Plan
  • In process render of the interior of the library and auditorium space across the street.
  • My original desires for the library's form were much more allegorical. At mid-review I was still following the ideas of transparency and accessibility but the idea was much more about how much lighter the library is going to get as everything digitizes. The library would become a void, or a automated storage facility for processing book loaning and scanning. The surface above would then essentially be a public wi-fi zone where the home page would automatically be the library's and finding information would go from there. The sculptural thick bars above would be the circulation paths that would connect a new rail station with the trail and then down over the library to the street.