Madison Shell's Chicago Library

2017 National DiscoverDesign Competition: Library + Community Space Design


Problem Statement

Design a Chicago library that will serve to the general public. This building will be open to the public as a place to get books, research, or simply just read. This library will offer lots of different options. It will have a full children's library section, an adult/regular book section, a research center which will hold computers, laptops, and lots of tables for people who need the internet or simply a quiet place to study. The library will also offer extra rooms that are able to be used as classrooms or places to hold events. This building will be built on a 75’x 125’ lot in the Little Italy neighborhood to provide access to this amazing public resource and to help the community learn and grow.

Collect Info

Collect Information Summery

What I have learned from this information study is how a library works and what is does. I have learned what this library will need and how it will function in this particular community. I have most importantly learned what my library will be like. This library will be in Little Italy Chicago and will be a public library available to the public as a valuable resource. Located inside the library will be a children's section, adult literature section, and a research center. In the children's section of the library the will be tons of children's books that range from ages baby to 12 years old. There will be lots of fun and open spaces available for projects and events or just simply reading. This section is a big open area with not a lot of separate rooms so that it is easy to access and children won’t get lost. The book cases in this section will be of a appropriate height and able for reaching. There will also be a mini children's research center with computers available for access. In the adult literature section of the library, located right off the children's section, there will be tons of book case and open seating. This section will be a big open space that is easily accessible and will have the feeling of wide open spaces. With tall, vaulted ceilings it will make it feel bigger then the space actually is. There will be tons of open seating and available tables for working. The research center will be right off the adult literature section. This space will be lots of computers and tables that will be available for working.

Brainstorm Ideas

During the brainstorm process I completed multiple things that led to the overall layout and design of the building. I completed the site plan which showed where the building is going and what it is around and the bubble diagram which shows a basic idea or the thinking process for where everything will go inside the building. Also included in this section is the basic sketches and layout designs of the building.

Develop Solutions

The develop solutions step is of the first, second, and third floor plans. It also includes the West, East, and South elevations along with the traversals. When looking at the floor plans the first floor, when walking in, opens up to the visiting center with the stairs going up to the second floor. Also on the first floor is the three conference rooms open to the public. Then when walking up to the second floor it opens up, looking toward the teen area of the library and lots of open seating. Looking to the left you will find it goes into the children's area which has lots of book shelves, tables, and open seating. This part is particularly closed off more to keep the children's area separate from the rest. When looking behind the stairs you will find the research area which is open with lots of computers and tables for studying. Next going up to the third floor you will walk up looking toward the coffee bar. To the left you will find the adult reading area with the library complete with lots of open seating areas. Behind the stairs you will see another research area complete with computers and tables for seating. Also on this floor you will find the librarians office, the employee workroom, and the break room.

Final Design

For my project I wanted to make this library most beneficial to the public. Working with all the dimensions and requirements I was able to make this library have lots of conference rooms, research areas, and open library sections made for all ages from young to old. There are three big open conference rooms specifically placed on the first floor for easy access to the public to hold both school and community meetings. On the second floor there are separate teen and children's areas specifically designed to help children learn and grow. There are also tons of computers and tables open to anyone who needs to research or use a computer for any need. There are also many tables all throughout the library open to anyone who needs to tutor or just needs a quiet place to work. On the third floor is the adult reading section of the library which holds the adult library and separate reading area for a nice place to sit down and enjoy a nice book. There is also a coffee bar located on this floor along with another research and computer area. The whole idea of the library was for it to be a big open area that easily flowed allowing for easy access to the entire library and that would help everyone from ages young to old grow in this local community.


Competition Jury 1 year ago
I liked that they took some chances with their work but I was trying to figure out how this fit in with the neighborhood. Does not really fit the urban context of Little Italy as it's oriented primarily to parking lot. -AR
Competition Jury 1 year ago
The site plan sketch and other sketches showed they really worked out their ideas and made some improvements -AR