Entry view. Photography: Scott McDonald ©Hedrich Blessing

Oak Park Public Library

Oak Park, Illinois

Images: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Area: 104,000 square feet
           plus underground parking

Awards: Chicago Building Congress Award of Merit and Midwest Construction Magazine's Best of 2004 Award for New Library Construction

Site & Program: The site is a transitional location in central Oak Park. It is across from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple and other similarly monumental and formal buildings. It also fronts the Jens Jensen-designed Scoville Park, which is informal by comparison. The program called for doubling the size of the former library on the same site.

Design: Nagle Hartray led a community-wide design process through 20 to 25 public meetings. The resulting library truly reflects the community’s values, which include respect for architectural heritage, diversity and sustainability. A paved plaza replaced the street between the library and the park, increasing library flexibility through larger floor plates and providing the Park District an amenity for summer festivals. The stone-clad street façade reinforces the formal architecture of neighboring buildings. The undulating, copper-clad façade reflects the informal and organic nature of the park. The architectural “style” is intentionally non-referential to reflect the community’s diversity.

Sustainability goals were achieved within a limited project budget. Flooring consists of recycled rubber sheet goods. A green roof increases insulation and roofing life, and reduces storm water drainage demand. Copper cladding consists of about 75% recycled material. Stone cladding is quarried within a 500 mile radius.

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