Home, Sweet Library

Core Studio

School of the Art Institute of Chicago: 2017, 2018

On October 21, 2016 the City of Chicago announced an interagency partnership between the Chicago Public Library (CPL) and the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) to develop three new branch libraries colocated with mixed-income housing. This hybrid program was presented as a new civic model to serve multiple constituencies within a neighborhood, and as means to challenge the “standard, cookie-cutter designs that are common to government buildings.”

This studio posits that the potentials of co-location might also be explored at the scale of urban infill. While the branch library remains an important model, the proliferation of micro-libraries and mobile-libraries, as well as the broader range of services that the contemporary library now provides, all suggest that smaller scales and unconventional arrangements might provide more flexible and specific spatial possibilities for CPL to engage the public. Single-lot, infill development also advances the CHA’s ambition to create decentralized communities of mixed-income public housing that offer various levels of affordability and access.

The combination of library and housing prompts a rethinking of the function and typology of these familiar programs. What productive overlaps or affinities might exist between the two? How should the public space of the library be articulated alongside the privacy required by residential living? Alternately, how does the insertion of the library highlight the public nature of subsidized, government housing? To what degree should these programs be conjoined? In what ways should they be separated? This studio will explore alternative possibilities for what Rahm Emanuel has deemed the “next great civic project here in Chicago.”

Work shown by students Arianna Silen, Olivia Chen, Lanye Luo, Lianne Ahn, Minch Wang, Lily Hernandez, Rachel Liu, Alexandra Ferreira, Kk Liu, and Sophie Jiang.