The LEED Platinum Chicago Public Library serves as a new civic, educational, and social hub for the surrounding community, tourists, and other visitors. The local landmark links the old and new Chinatown while providing flexible space designed for inclusive community activities driven by technology-based learning.

The value of design excellence.

The Public Building Commission of Chicago (PBC) had a competition to move away from its typical branch library design. Wight & Company partnered with SOM to design, in just one month’s time, a softly-three-sided, feng shui appropriate gem of architecture. Award-winning design excellence changed how Chicago designs and builds public buildings.

Record speed.

Utilizing their integrated DESIGN LED Design Build team approach, Wight met the City’s goal to design, permit, and build the new library on the oddly shaped urban crossroads of Chinatown in just over one year – 3 times faster than typical.

Early cost guarantee.

In the competition submittal prepared in 4 weeks, Wight guaranteed a maximum project price providing cost certainty and saved over 22% in costs to city taxpayers.

Chinatown Library 08
Chinatown Library 06

The interior includes a community meeting area, a children’s zone, and a connected atrium that references a traditional Chinese courtyard, to respond to the building’s cultural context. All spaces connect to a central atrium, providing clear orientation and spatial cohesion, while minimizing the building’s total footprint. The community meeting area and children’s zone occupy the ground level, while the teen and adult zones are on the second level. An open floor plan ensures maximum flexibility.

Furnishings and storage solutions, including eye-level shelving and community worktables, are similarly flexible so as to accommodate multiple uses and arrangements. The building features numerous sustainable elements and has achieved LEED Platinum certification from the USGBC.

Our integrated approach utilized the expertise of three Chinese-American professionals who were active in the community. Each of these leaders contributed their knowledge of the balance and harmony of Chinese culture in an American context.

Read more about the Chinatown Public Library here.