Jane Addams Library

Jane Addams Library

2017 National DiscoverDesign Competition: Library + Community Space Design

Define

The area is called University Village for a reason. The statistics show that the area is heavily dominated by college students, so the problem of designing a library in this neighborhood includes trying to find a way to accommodate these students. After college students, the second largest population is of kids and teens. The library will need to tend to the children and teen populations; especially considering a library's importance to local schools. The site has multiple primary and secondary schools nearby, such as Smyth J. Elementary School, Mark T. Skinner West Elementary School, and Whitney M Young Magnet High School. Considering that a magnet school is a school that gives extra spots available to kids city wide, a large portion of these students will often be stranded in the area until their parents pick them up from all parts of the city. The site’s proximity to these schools can offer local students a place to stay and do their homework or a safe place to hang out until their parents pick them up. As magnet kids, an advanced library working space can also allow them to get the resources they need to their work. Lastly, the adult and senior population will also need a place to go, most likely in the same working and reading space as the college kids. University Village is a diverse, historically rich neighborhood. The next problem to tackle in this design is to address the site of University Village. The Jane Addams Hull House is just across the street from the site, where it used to be a community historic center piece. With it’s recent closing, the neighborhood needs a new community center. In order to honor the Jane Addams Hull House, and represent the new symbolic community centerpiece of the library, the project will be named the Jane Addams Library. The site's historic location poses the problem of how to preserve and inform the community of the rich culture that has flowed through West Taylor Street for decades. More problems related to the site include fully utilizing the site’s traffic and circulation, using the views around the building, and taking advantage of the community farm to the North. The Jane Addams Library must solve these problems related to people and site, all while being a sustainable and environmentally efficient building.

Collect Info

To understand how to make an inviting new space it is important to look to the work of environmental psychologists Kaplan and Kaplan. To sum the Kaplans’ work up, when people enter new spaces we wish to find a cognitive match to it in our memory, so that we can understand the meaning of the space. If the space is familiar, we get a sense of comfort as the space makes sense. When we enter unfamiliar spaces we can feel a sense of discomfort as we try to make sense of the environment. Familiarity is the first factor the Kaplans found to how people interpret new environments. The other was a desire of involvement with the environment, the wow-factor. Sometimes in unfamiliar places, the uniqueness and unfamiliarity of the space can be stimulating and exciting. And sometimes in very familiar places, the space can be dull and boring. This wow-factor is often dependent on the complexity of the environment. A complex space can be interesting, unless it is too complex in which case it will be unfamiliar and off putting. The perfect library must be moderately complex to be interesting, but it also must be familiar so that it can be a comfortable, relaxing space. We must also consider the people who live in University Village. The University of Illinois at Chicago has generated a high amount of college students to live in this area. Looking at the age statistics the mode of residents in this area is 27. The median age is 30 years old, and almost half of the residents are between the ages of 20 and 34. These statistical trends bolster the requirement for the library to tend to the needs of the large college student population. There are also some underlying populations. 17.4% of the people in the University Village area are 19 and younger. The site has some nearby primary and secondary schools nearby, such as Smyth J. Elementary School, Mark T. Skinner West Elementary School, and Whitney M Young Magnet High School, which only confirms the need to provide a space for these kids which has the resources to enable them to do their schoolwork. Next we must consider the site in University Village. A couple important site factors include prominent nearby buildings, unique features, accessibility, and views. The library's site is on the corner of West Taylor Street and South Ada Street. It is important to recognize the historical significance of the location of the site. West Taylor Street is considered to be the heart of Little Italy, and is where the annual Festa Italiana is celebrated. Many of the buildings on this street hold historical significance but one in particular stands out. Directly to the East of the proposed site is the Jane Addams Hull House. The Hull House was Chicago's first social settlement, a place where immigrants could gather to learn, to eat, to debate, and to acquire tools to be ready for their new country. The Hull House grew to do many more things such as being a place to teach English, cooking, sewing, technical skills, and American Government. The ideals of this Hull House will be reflected in the design of the library.The library will pay homage to it’s site, community, and the hull house by taking over the role the hull house previously played as the community centerpiece. Just north of the site we can see The Taylor Street Farms, an organic community garden that can have plots rented by neighborhood families to make their own produce. Incorporating a program and allocating some space for utilization of the farm could serve as an excellent opportunity for kids to learn about agriculture. The site's historic location also grants reason to include a historic center in the library, to preserve the rich culture that has flowed through West Taylor Street for decades. West Taylor Street is also to be the main contributor of circulation and accessibility, with bike paths, nearby businesses (various restaurants, including the conveniently placed Sweet Maple Café), and pedestrian walkways. There are 2 different subways stations about a half mile away from the site (the Racine and Polk subway stations). As far as views from the site goes, greenery wraps around the North and East side of the building in the form of the Taylor Street Farms, the Arrigo Park, and the Vernon Park. To the East, Jane Addams Hull House stands proudly, a monument to it's former glory. And finally the beautiful West Taylor Street lies to the South. Many of the nearby buildings were built in the late 1800s to early 1900s at the turn of the century. As such, Italian Renaissance Revival is heavily present in the area, with recurring features such as the inclusion of brick as a building material. The proposed site is within the Chicago Public Library district, so it would only be appropriate for the library to uphold the standards set before it. The Chicago Public Library Website states that they “[serve] all Chicagoans with free and open places to gather, learn, connect, read and be transformed.” My library will have to have plenty of gathering space, which includes community rooms, open seating and discussing spaces, as well as just open space. To be a learning space my library must have books, computer stations, and operational information centers, so that people can have all the resources needed to access knowledge and learn. My library needs to include supple quiet and comfortable reading space. To transform people, my library must be a transformative experience. To accomplish that the library must be a relaxing, learning environment. Public libraries have certain features that ought to be included to make them as functional as possible. This list includes but is not limited to, studying and reading spaces, work spaces, computer stations, maker spaces, community meeting rooms, information centers, areas for youth, good lighting, good seating, spaces with appropriate noise levels, and many others. Some design flaws libraries have include a lack of computer stations, lack of spaces that allow for conversations, lack of usable study rooms, and excessive use of unfiltered daylight (which can be harmful to books and harsh for reading). There are many libraries that offer unique features and ideas for good library design. Here are some that I draw inspiration from. Vancouver Community Library - The Vancouver Community Library has a rooftop accessible space for the public. This library inspires me to make my own rooftop accessible space. Richard J. Daley Library - Offers an intriguing design center, as well as a separation of floors that inspires me to use different floors as an opportunity to separate different environments, noise levels, and purposes. Burton Barr Central Library - Has unique and interesting shade structures. Inspires me to make beautiful and interesting shade structures over glass. University of Oregon Allan Price Science Commons & Research Library Remodel - Has a good inclusion of glass and brick materials to form a contemporary look. Inspires me to incorporate brick but still create a contemporary design. Sawyer Library of Williams College - Glass wall with shade structures and intriguing interior. Inspires me to to have vast glass walls but contemporary and engaging interior and furniture. Chicago's Chinatown Chicago Public Library - Incorporation of shades structures with glass wall. Inspires me to make vertical shade structures.

Brainstorm Ideas

Considering the issues presented in the collecting phase it is important that we now address them. To create a space that satisfies Kaplans’ model we must make a space that is not only familiar and coherent but also interesting and involving. To create a library that is familiar to the people of University Village we must pull familiar elements from the neighborhood and the people in it. So we could use some recurring building materials in the neighborhood such as the red brick in the design of the library. We could also use familiar design choices, such as the brutalist design from the Richard J. Daley library and the University of Illinois Chicago, or the contemporary design in the The National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, which is on the same street as the proposed site. We could incorporate those to create a familiar exterior, but for the interior, it is important to make the purpose of the space clear and coherent. To do this, form and function should be at one with each other. For example, the lighting should attract to the important aspects of the building, like the central meeting and gathering place, or to a central staircase. The flooring and wall materials should be reflective of the space, such as carpets in a reading space, because it allows for a more comfortable and quiet space. The openness of the space should also reflect the purpose of that space, for example, for a community room, the room should be open, maybe with glass walls, as it is a symbolically public and transparent space. If the building is coherent and the space is reflective of it’s purpose then it should be able to be understood and be a more overall comfortable space. The other factor we must brainstorm solutions for is the involving design, the wow-factor. The design must be somewhat complex so that it retains interest. To do this, the library should incorporate intriguing shade structures which would double for functionality, the interior furniture and building materials can vary to produce a safe amount of complexity to keep things engaging. The facade can be made complex which wouldn’t affect the familiarity of the design. As for the interior, different seating arrangements could be employed to create an interesting experience. Different lighting techniques can make a place complex and promote interest. For example, a private studying room lighting could be made more intimate by having low lighting in the periphery where the seating is, and having a focus on central lighting. These are some ideas that could be incorporated to make the library coherent and involving so it is a great experience every time someone goes. Looking at a national study conducted in 2015 by the Pew Research Center there has been a 4% increase of people since 2012 who use libraries for sitting and reading, studying or accessing media. It accounts for 53% of people and is the second biggest reason why people go libraries, behind borrowing printed books, which accounts for 66% of people, a considerable drop since 2012. This backs the small study I conducted, which says 63% of the people study, 50% read and 50% use the computers and facilities (http://assets.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2015/09/2015-09-15_libraries_FINAL.pdf). Taking this into account, it is important to make studying resources accessible to a library built into University Village. As such, a quiet comfortable environment should be incorporated, as well as a more interactive working environment. Looking at the UIC Richard J. Daley Library, which is also found in the University Village, we can see how they worked to solve the problem of needing different environments by including 4 floors with each having it’s own design for it’s purpose. For example, the 2nd floor is a more quiet, environment for studying, whereas the 4th floor is a more casual, relaxed environment. In a studying space there ought to be a lot of seating, lighting, studying tables, many print books, private study rooms, a lot of outlets, and some PACs (Public Access Computer Stations). In a more interactive environment there ought to be PACs, high speed internet connectivity, makerspaces, 3D printers, laser cutters, studying tables, outlets, and lots of seating. The library also might want to consider including amenities such as late hours (for studying), a cafe, etc. According to the same study conducted by Pew Research Center, in the past year, 23% of Americans ages 16+ say they worked with fellow citizens to address a problem in their community. Of them, 28% attended a meeting at the library in the prior year, compared with 11% who had not worked with others on a community problem. Through this we can see the library is an important place for a community to meet and discuss. Ultimately, the library is widely thought of a place for a community, and it’s programs. Community spaces suggested by WBDG (Whole Building Design Guides) include meeting rooms, which is split into two types. There are meeting rooms with theater seating, such as a theater or a lecture hall. There all also meeting rooms with conference seating. Besides meeting rooms for community programs and events it is important to consider other forms of community space in libraries. Two of the main community purposes that libraries serve is to provide health care information and help people find jobs. Almost 75% of people ages 16 and over think libraries help people find health care information, and 23% of people who have visited a library within the last year did so to look for a job. To find medical and job information, PACs will need to be readily accessible in the community space. Alongside these two nationally popular community ammenities, the OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) in their article “Transforming Library Spaces for Community Engagement” (http://library.wyo.gov/downloads/ldo/pdf/boards/Transforming-Library-Spaces-for-Community-Engagement.pdf) suggests looking at local stakeholders potential needs when designing the community space. It lists some potential stakeholders, (Arts organizations, Bicycle clubs, Community colleges, Faith-based organizations, Farming and gardening associations, Historical preservationists, Local businesses, National retailers, Schools, Senior centers, State parks, University extension programs). Just north of the site we can see The Taylor Street Farms (http://taylorstreetfarms.com/), an organic community garden that can have plots rented by neighborhood families to make their own produce. Incorporating a program and allocating some space for utilization by the farm could serve as an excellent opportunity for kids to learn about agriculture which can, as shown in the study “THE BENEFITS OF TEACHING AND LEARNING ABOUT AGRICULTURE”, provide situatedness, connectedness, and authenticity to kids. Other libraries have implemented programs like this before (https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2016/11/01/library-farm-to-table/) which successfully teach about sustainability and farming practices. A way the library could accommodate for the farm is possible to incorporate a patio on the North side where the farm is. A space for an art gallery is also something to take into consideration. Here in Las Vegas, there are art galleries at practically every single library. A need or want for gallery can be established through The University of Illinois, which holds a prominent position in the neighborhood, and might want to use the space for an outreach program. The art department at UIC could use the space for a gallery to display local art for the whole community to see. Excluding the University, the Roosevelt Public Library (which is also on Taylor Street) has hosted art exhibits for different events, such as Hispanic Heritage Month (https://www.chipublib.org/news/hispanic-heritage-month-art-exhibits-2017/). A gallery would be beneficial to the local artists, college students, art enthusiasts, as well as library patrons. To create space for an art gallery several factors will be need to be considered (http://smallbusiness.chron.com/design-art-gallery-17352.html). For example, there needs to be lots of lighting, proper humidity and temperature control, as well as an appropriate wall color. (https://www.e-architect.co.uk/art-gallery-buildings) The neighborhood is culturally and historically rich and deserves to have it’s history displayed within a library located in the center of University Village. Standing tall next door is the Jane Addams Hull House which is a historic landmark known for accepting immigrants and giving them a place to stay. The neighborhood also contains rich ethnic history which is celebrated annually in the Festa Italiana (http://www.villageprofile.com/illinois/universityvillage/festa-italiana.html). The library should be able to inform, and educate about the history of the community effectively. To make an effective historic and heritage center it is important to base the space around the information and objects that the center will be displaying. Little Italy was one of the original neighborhoods in Chicago, and hosted a variety of immigrants, mainly Italian, but also German, Irish, Scandinavian, Greek, Polish, Russian and more. As the area grew, more ethnicities including African-American, Asian, and Hispanic also came. Eventually the University of Illinois came along and brought medical, technological, and research based institutions. The college also brought many students with it who now reside in the area. A historic center would discuss the original immigrant and Italian culture, as well as historic buildings and events in the area, such as Festa Italiana, and Jane Addams Hull House

. The neighboring Arrigo and Vernon Parks could also use the library as a headquarters for community events held there, or an information center. There are two nearby elementary schools, the Smyth J Elementary School (0.7 miles away), the Mark T. Skinner West Elementary School (1.0 miles away), and the Whitney M Young Magnet High School (0.8 miles away). It would be worth considering making a space for the kids to go after school, especially considering the proximity to the park, the library could serve as a place to get picked up and a safe place to stay after school. An especially CRUCIAL element to take into consideration is that the high school is a MAGNET high school. According to the Chicago Public Schools website (http://www.cps.edu/Schools/Elementary_schools/Pages/Regionalgiftedcenter.aspx), a magnet school places local students who apply in a lottery, and extra spots are opened city wide. Considering that students from all across the city will be at this school, a large portion of them often will be stranded in the area until their parents pick them up. The site’s proximity can offer local students a place to stay and do their homework. To accommodate these kids, there should be a teen and kid space that allows not just for reading, but also to hang out and discuss.

When talking about orientation, generally libraries want as little direct sunlight exposure as possible, because the UV rays can be harmful to books and materials. As such, East and West windows must be placed tactfully and have vertical shading structures. North and South Windows need horizontal shading structures but can be more liberally placed as the Sun is less common. At the same time, daylighting is really important as it is a free form of lighting and can be used to reduce heating and lighting costs. Considering the views of the building as well, window placement should heavily present on the North, East, and South because that is where the park, Hull House, and the West Taylor Street are. The West is just a parking lot and also is one of the worst places for windows, so windows to the west can be minimized. It is also important to consider sustainability in a building. I’ve already touched on using daylighting, as it can reduce cooling costs and also lighting costs. A green roof can also be used to reduce cooling and heating costs. Not only that, but a green roof can pay homage to the famous Green roof atop the Chicago City Hall. The main building materials used to make the library can be recycled such as bricks, wood, and glass. These materials can make the building more environmentally friendly. The inclusion of daylighting, a green roof, and sustainable building materials should make the building have a minimal impact on the environment.

Develop Solutions

There are multiple solutions to making the library an effective community center that caters to the needs of University Village. First off, it needs to be an appealing place to go. To do this, the building needs to be visually appealing and functionally attractive. To make the Library appealing, the building should incorporate familiar aspects of the neighborhood into a more aesthetically pleasing contemporary design. A contemporary design will be used with references to local architecture like red brick from the Jane Addams Hull House, and a green roof similar to the Chicago City Hall Green Roof. Second, the building needs to be able to provide for the communities needs. Community needs include a place to hold meetings and discussions, ability to find health care information, ability to find job opportunities, and also to support any local community organizations. Conference or Community Rooms that are incorporated into the design give the ability to hold meetings and discussions, and Public Access Computer Stations set specifically aside for the Community can provide a usable space to find healthcare and job information. As far as ability to support local community organizations, some potential stakeholders include the Taylor Street Farms, the University of Illinois, and the Chicago Art Coalition. The Taylor Street Farms can use the Community Rooms that are placed on the North side of the building next to the farms themselves as an educational opportunity to teach kids about gardening, sustainability, and agriculture. The University of Illinois can use the building as a place to hold events as the 2nd adult floor has an abundance of computer stations and seating. The Chicago Art Coalition or the Art Department of the University of Illinois can also utilize the small art gallery to showcase local art. Other solutions to make the library an effective community center include, third, the adult, teen, child, and early child spaces provided on the 2nd and 3rd floors. These each give opportunities for members of the community, at any age, to visit, read, learn, and gather. Any member of the community can check out books, or use the computers. It gives an equal opportunity for all people to access the materials they need to succeed. The building must be cost-efficient and well designed, to be as effective as possible. Bricks are a good material to use in Chicago as, one, they fit the aesthetic, but they also are very effective at insulation and retaining of natural heat. Bricks also can be recycled and sustainable. They are placed on the West side of the building, where most of the facilities are located so that heat can be retained better. To the East is glass, with less insulation, so there is mostly an open air space to effectively use the space while maintaining the visual appeal. A cheap wood siding facade is used on the North side, as well as on many of the interior walls that will deter the negative effects of the East and South glass walls. The glass used on the South and East walls will have low-E coatings to limit heat gain, and resistant frames to be able to maintain heat during cold winters, and keep out the hot summer. Concrete will be used as a cheap and aesthetic material for staircases, walls, roofs, and other structures. Carpet flooring allows for a quiet, familiar, cheap, comfortable material for reading and gathering spaces. Carpet will be used in conjunction with a tile flooring found near entrances and on the open walkway on the East Side of the building for heavy duty needs. Shade-structures will also be able to reduce cooling costs of the building significantly as well as reduce direct sunlight to prevent the harms of UV Rays to the books.

Final Design

This library has a plethora of needs that need to be addressed to make sure that it is fully functional and useful when it is put into place. According to my definition of the problem, it needed to provide for the college population, the teens and kids, it needed to be a community center reminiscent of the Jane Addams Hull House, provide access from West Taylor Street, it needed to pay respect to the rich culture of the neighborhood, utilize the farm to the North, and take advantage of the views to the South, East, and North, all while being environmentally sustainable and efficient. First, the library needs to provide adequate support for the college population. The whole second floor provides a large studying environment for college students with an abundance of Public Access Computer Stations. There is a quiet reading environment, an area that allows for discussion and private group studying, a work station space with plenty of desk space and computers, and also a maker space area. The whole second floor was dedicated entirely to adults and seniors so that they can utilize the space for their varying needs. Next was to provide for the teens and kids. The third floor provides a fun interactive environment for kids so they can feel as though they have their own exclusive space. There are distinct spaces for the early children, children, and the teens. There is also a creative maker space for the teens, which gives them opportunity to work on school projects or other creative pursuits. This space allows for kids to have a quiet place to read, but also gives them the opportunity to discuss and hang out after school. The kids could come to the library after going to the nearby parks, or vice versa. Second, the library should pay homage to the previous community center, the Jane Addams Hull House. I decided to mirror the Hull House in a couple of ways that show through the design of the library. The most obvious is that the library is named after Jane Addams. Less obvious is the inclusion of the same building materials. I made red brick a prevalent building material that can be seen throughout the building to lay some roots of the building in the brick-dominated neighborhood. I also decided to dedicate the entire first floor to reflect the function of the Hull House. The first floor is all about the community aspect of the library. Centrally located is the information center, which allows people of the community to ask questions and interact with librarians. To the west is a mini-museum and art gallery that showcase some of the history behind the neighborhood, as well as give a place for local talent to display their works of art. In the center is an open meeting space, where all people can gather and talk, there is quite a lot of open seating so that the community can use the library as a meeting or discussing place. Then on the North side is the community conference rooms, where the community can more formally discuss issues or hold meetings. Also on the North side is an entrance to the community Taylor Street Farms, encouraging the growth of the urban gardening effort. The Hull House was a place that the community could gather to learn, to eat, to debate, and to acquire practical skills. The library will be filling this role by providing formal and informal gathering and debating space through the open seating and conference rooms, plenty of learning space through the information center, historic center, and the reading and computer spaces on the second and third floors, and it also provides an outlet to the Taylor Street Farms for a symbolic community eating. Third, the library ought to use the access ports coming from West Taylor Street effectively. I confronted this issue head on by placing the entrance on West Taylor Street, but I didn’t stop there. The building also has a continuous glass wall that flows from West Taylor Street to Ada Street. This glass wall is visually appealing and can be seen for quite a while heading West on Taylor Street, and if going East the mammoth Jane Addams Library text is emblazoned upon the brick wall and is also very recognizable. This allows for the Library to be particularly easy to see in the main access points and the entrance on the West Taylor Street allows for most of the circulation to have easy access to the building. The next design challenge was to inform the community of the rich history of the neighborhood, utilize the positioning of the Taylor Street Farms, and to use the views in the library has to offer. I answered these challenges with some simple design choices. I created a historic area and an art gallery that is dedicated to the history of the neighborhood, and art from neighborhood artists. For the Taylor Street Farms I created an exit on the north side that allows for the library to serve as a passage to the Taylor Street Farms. For the views I created a wraparound glass curtain wall, that goes from the South to the East side of the building allowing for beautiful views, but I also created an accessible rooftop public space which allows for the viewer to overlook the parks, Taylor Street, and the city. The Jane Addams Library shapes up to meet all the challenges that are defined by the site and how the Little Italy/University Village community who would use it. It draws inspiration from and reflects the University Village/Little Italy neighborhood. It is a symbolic and practical community centerpiece by being an attractive, yet familiar building, and being a place where the community can gather, learn, connect, read and be transformed.

Comments

Competition Jury 10 months ago
Interesting use of animation! Narrative is wordy and difficult to follow. Appreciate that you showed building in context. Blank exterior wall could use additional detailing. -AR
Competition Jury 10 months ago
Thought this project showed a very strong process. Loved the pixel art image. Appreciated that they utilized this tool to show the transition of the day. And really liked the VR walk through -Competition Jury
EdwardPeter991 9 months ago
The proposed site is inside the Chicago Public Library region, so it would just be fitting for the library to maintain the norms set before it. The Chicago Public Library Website expresses that they "[serve] all Dissertation Labs with free and open spots to accumulate, learn, interface, read and be changed.