For more than 115 years, The Harvey Public Library has served this once vibrant Chicago suburb. Though the city has suffered through economic decline, the library has remained a unifying constant & community hub. With the passage of time and deficient investment, the existing structure became dated, lacked modern technology and amenities, and spatial openness commonplace in current library design thinking. Replacement and renovation options were explored – focusing on providing a modern environment to both house upgraded library amenities and evolve to meet current and future community needs. Due to the existing library’s central location within the city, the decision was made to renovate and expand in-place.
The resulting design created a ‘new’ icon for the City of Harvey; providing technology-enhanced, open and inviting library space while reusing the existing building structure and MEP systems. A glass corridor separates the reading room from newly-added community spaces; facilitating use during off-library hours. The new program features a large multipurpose space accommodating 150 people, several smaller meeting spaces, integrated circulation/staff area, and a multimedia room.
A new panelized skin wraps the old façade, while an addition rises above the roof line of the existing library structure as a gesture to the community’s aspirations. The main entry was reoriented to create a more visible “front door” and engage passersby. It features a swooping canopy with a die cut “reverse shadow” element, casting a moving shadow on the ground & walls using natural sunlight during the day and artificial lighting at night.