Overall view. Photography: ©Hedrich Blessing

Evanston Public Library

Evanston, Illinois

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Area: 115,000 square feet

Awards: Chicago Building Congress Award; Excellence in Masonry Gold Award; Evanston Preservation Award; ALA/IIDA Library Interior Design Award for The Loft; Chicago AIA Interior Architecture Award for The Loft

Site & Program: The urban site is centrally located in downtown Evanston. The building is the result of a national competition won by a young architect who chose to team with Nagle Hartray to execute the project.

Design: The design conveys the library’s civic importance. The arrangement of building massing, particularly masonry piers, create strong shadows that provide the architecture an unusual depth. The architecture strikes a balance between monumentality and human scale appropriate to its purpose.

Library interiors are organized around a central open stair that provides orientation to visitors as they move between floors. The main reading room on the top floor is a primary feature. It is larger than usual for a public library in order to serve both citizens of Evanston and students from nearby Northwestern University.

Ten years after completing the original building, Nagle Hartray expanded the Children’s Room and added The Loft - a dedicated space for teens.  These spaces were designed in collaboration with architectureisfun, Inc., a firm that specializes in designing environments for children. The Children's room now has age-specific zones that include interactive, museum-like elements.


Virtual tour of The Loft.

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