Unveiled> SOM Designs New Library Branch for Chicago’s Chinatown

Midwest
Chinatown's new library on Wentworth Avenue. (SOM / Public Buildings Commission)

Chinatown’s new library on Wentworth Avenue. (SOM / Public Buildings Commission)

In the first-ever design/build process for a Chicago neighborhood library branch, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill joins Wight & Company construction to replace Chinatown’s aging and heavily trafficked library at 2100 South Wentworth Avenue.

Chinatown's new library on Wentworth Avenue. (SOM / Public Buildings Commission)

Chinatown’s new library on Wentworth Avenue. (SOM / Public Buildings Commission)

It’s part of a $66 million “investment to build expand and modernize our library system,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. The new facility replaces the existing branch located in a leased building at 2353 S. Wentworth Ave. That branch is one of the busiest in the city, averaging about 21,000 visitors per month in 2012.

SOM’s design appears to be a two-story oval, shaded from all but head-on angles by wood fins perpendicular to its glass façade.

Slated to open in 2015, the new library branch is a long time coming. TIF funds will finance some of the development, which is currently in the land acquisition phase.

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