New lobby. Photo: © 2016

DeKalb Public Library

DeKalb, Illinois

Images: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Area:  Renovation – 16,000 square feet
            Expansion – 48,000 square feet

Site and Program: The Haish Memorial Library is an architectural gem on the National Register of Historic Places. It was constructed in 1930 in a Deco-Moderne style with funds donated by a local barbed-wire magnate. The Library's space needs long ago outgrew the building's modest size.

The Library tried to negotiate the purchase of land on which to build a new, larger DeKalb Public Library, but this proved unfeasible due to costs. Prompted by Nagle Hartray, the Library decided to expand on its current site, tripling the size of the current building.

Design: The primary design challenge was to allay Library and community concerns about adding onto its historic building without compromising the efficiency of an expanded floor plan. The design addresses these concerns by repeating the rhythm of the existing building plan, defining a new central building entry that makes all areas of the expanded floor plan equally accessible, and using the language of the existing architecture as a basis for the new without the type of simple imitation that would confuse old and new.

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