The Skokie Public Library retrofit project adapts to evolving community needs
In the US town of Skokie, Illinois – just north of Chicago – Andrew Berman Architect has completed the transformation of the Skokie Public Library. Built in three phases beginning in 1960 and ending in 2003, the 11,610 sq m community library had become an inefficient and tangled series of spaces. New York-based Andrew Berman Architect was brought on board to develop a new masterplan for the building, clarifying it and making it responsive to contemporary evolving needs.
The practice worked closely with library staff and the community to develop a fine-grain understanding of the operations and maintenance of the library, as well as the requirements and desires of its users.
The architects reorganised the plan and circulation of the library to create a welcoming and easily navigable experience. The collection of books and materials was re-presented and integrated into the architecture to increase accessibility. A range of spaces and rooms was created to allow for reading, relaxing, collaborating and programming for all ages, including a playful children-focused space.
Three exterior courtyards were redesigned for inclusive daily use and a new interior ‘street’ was introduced that improves wayfinding. Without adding new built area, the refurbishment has added space, light, and enhanced views. Through a series of clarifying and practical gestures, the library experience has been improved while centring reuse, retrofit and sustainability.
Photography by Michael Moran