Independence and Northtown branch library and apartments win recognition for projects that demonstrate design achievement
CHICAGO – RealEstateRama – The Chicago Housing Authority – along with partners City of Chicago, Chicago Public Library and Evergreen Real Estate Group – has won 2020 Library Building Awards from the American Institute of Architects and American Library Association for two co-located library and senior housing developments.
Independence Branch Library and Apartments in Irving Park and Northtown Branch Library and Apartments in West Ridge were selected for the annual awards, which recognize projects that demonstrate design achievement, including a sense of place, purpose, ecology, environmental sustainability and history.
They were two of four winners recognized in the United States and Canada. Both projects were completed last year. They were picked by a six-person panel.
“Together, the projects provide critical social and educational opportunities for area residents, as well as much-needed housing for low-income seniors whose quality of life is enhanced by having direct access to the lower-level library, among other community amenities,” said CHA CEO Tracey Scott.
Independence Branch Library and Apartments is a six-story mixed-use development that features 44 units of affordable rental housing for seniors. The project was designed by John Ronan Architects. It was selected for its use of new hybrid building technology; location in a diverse, mixed-income neighborhood; educational opportunities provided for all age groups; and thoughtful mix of materials, including ground and polished precast concrete that contrasts with the development’s brightly colored balconies.
Ronan’s design places the library on the lower two levels of the building, with a facade consisting of gray concrete panels and expanses of glass that allow for natural light. The residential portion of the building, which is set back from the library, features a white aluminum exterior, accented by recessed balconies in many colors.
Northtown Branch Library and Apartments is a four-story, 44-unit affordable senior housing community designed by Perkins and Will. It was picked for its design that maximizes the potential for interaction between the affordable housing residents and library patrons by creating connections rather than separations in the spaces; the developer’s commitment to energy use reduction; and for the way the project serves as an agent of social change by pairing opportunities for lifelong learning with a sustainable solution to the city’s housing shortage.
Like the Independence development, the Northtown project houses a library on the first two floors, with residences located above. The exterior features floor-to-ceiling glass on the lower library levels, while the upper floors – whose curved design creates outdoor roof decks facing the adjacent park and residential neighborhood – are in insulated metal panels with bright green accents.
“It is a true honor to receive these awards, and it’s particularly special for both of our co-located library/housing projects to earn this prestigious distinction,” said David Block, director of development for Evergreen Real Estate Group. “We are extremely proud of our collaboration with the city of Chicago, CHA and CPL on these pioneering projects, which we hope can serve as a model for other cities across the country. By co-locating affordable senior housing with new public library branches, the developments stand as an example of how multiple neighborhood needs can be addressed through a single, architecturally significant project.”
Office of Communications – Chicago Housing Authority
Matthew Aguilar: (312) 935-2646; (312) 523-7067;