When Chicago’s newest public library branch opened on August 29, neighbors poured through the door like they were carrying overdue books. More than 6,500 people attended the opening day of the new Chicago Public Library building at 2100 South Wentworth Avenue in the city’s Chinatown neighborhood—a new record. Crowds have kept up since, attracting about 1,500 visitors per day.
Why all the fuss for a new neighborhood library? This one was unusual, most notably for deviating from the architectural prototype established by the Public Building Commission of Chicago under previous Mayor Richard M. Daley. It’s also somewhat of a detour for its designers, Chicago-based Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.