Taylor Street Apartments and Little Italy Branch Library
Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Owner: Chicago Housing Authority, Related Midwest
Location: Chicago, IL
Chicago's Taylor Street Apartments and Little Italy Branch Library is an example of an emerging building typology that blends a mixed-income residential building with a bustling public library. It is also the city's first co-located project for the Chicago Housing Authority and Chicago Public Library. Situated on the corner of West Taylor and Ada streets on the city's West Side, the new facility synergizes its two unique programs and serves as a critical hub for the surrounding community.
To activate the street and respect the neighborhood's scale and texture, the team set the building back and staggered it across the site. In doing so, it created a new public space and preserved Taylor Street Farm, an adjacent community garden. With its prominent location, the building eagerly welcomes patrons into its bright and soaring open spaces designed for a wide range of ages.
The library's interior spaces and the residential amenities feature neutral tones and exposed concrete complemented by the warm wood tones of the casework, colored felt ceiling elements, and vibrant wall graphics. The graphics help define the discrete programmatic spaces, assist in wayfinding, and solidify the building's identity.
The building's dual public and private roles prompted the team to take a holistic approach to sustainability.
Above the library, the residential units boast floor-to-ceiling windows that supply ample daylight to the interiors. Residents overlook the communal garden and enjoy sweeping views of Chicago's iconic skyline. Many of the spaces were designed with communal living in mind, including shared amenities and rooftop green space.
The building's dual public and private roles prompted the team to take a holistic approach to sustainability. Before entering, both passersby and visitors are greeted by bike racks, designated spaces for carpool and low-emission vehicles, and local vegetation that broadcast the design's sustainable intent. Overall, the building benefits significantly from its green roof infrastructure, which helps reduce the local heat island. More than 95% of precipitation is managed on-site, and the landscape surrounding the building requires no permanent irrigation.
It is the city's first co-located project for the Chicago Housing Authority and Chicago Public Library.
Despite being one of the city's newest library locations, it quickly became one of its most-visited branches. Since it opened in February 2019, the library has welcomed more than 157,000 patrons and has seen its collection grow to nearly 42,000 holdings.