Taylor Street Apartments and Little Italy Branch Library

Taylor Street
Taylor Street
Taylor Street

Breaking the mold for civic architecture, the co-located Taylor Street Apartments and Little Italy Branch Library provide much needed affordable housing while bringing flexible learning spaces and versatile programming to the Near West Side neighborhood.

Project Facts
  • Status Construction Complete
  • Completion Year 2019
  • Design Finish Year 2018
  • Size Site Area: 38,640 Building Height: 78 feet Number of Stories: 7 Building Gross Area: 72,830 square feet
  • Rental Units 73
  • Rooms 73
  • Awards
    2019, Vision Award: Affordable Housing and Visionary Collaboration, Urban Land Institute Chicago Chapter 2021, Design Excellence Award, AIA Chicago 2021, AIA/ALA Library Building Awards, AIA 2021, LOCUS Leadership Project of the Year Award, Project of the Year by Smart Growth America
  • Sustainability Certifications LEED BD+C NC (New Construction) Silver, BD+C, Silver
  • Collaborators
    Nia Architects MEPIS Shen Milsom & Wilke Site Design Group, Ltd. Zutalé Design Engage Civil Incorporated dbHMS W.E. O'Neil Construction Bowa Construction Related Midwest
Project Facts
  • Status Construction Complete
  • Completion Year 2019
  • Design Finish Year 2018
  • Size Site Area: 38,640 Building Height: 78 feet Number of Stories: 7 Building Gross Area: 72,830 square feet
  • Rental Units 73
  • Rooms 73
  • Awards
    2019, Vision Award: Affordable Housing and Visionary Collaboration, Urban Land Institute Chicago Chapter 2021, Design Excellence Award, AIA Chicago 2021, AIA/ALA Library Building Awards, AIA 2021, LOCUS Leadership Project of the Year Award, Project of the Year by Smart Growth America
  • Sustainability Certifications LEED BD+C NC (New Construction) Silver, BD+C, Silver
  • Collaborators
    Nia Architects MEPIS Shen Milsom & Wilke Site Design Group, Ltd. Zutalé Design Engage Civil Incorporated dbHMS W.E. O'Neil Construction Bowa Construction Related Midwest

The Taylor Street Apartments and Little Italy Branch Library realizes an innovative approach to mixed-use development through the co-location of affordable housing and a public library branch. Accomplished through a public-private partnership with the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), the Chicago Public Library, and Related Midwest, the project includes 73 apartments and a 14,000-square-foot library. SOM worked with local leaders to design this pioneering project, and in the process, the team explored new ways to create a better, more connected city.

Taylor Street
© Tom Harris

These are integrated works of bespoke architecture, their exceptional design central to their social and civic agenda.

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This seven-story complex is clad in terracotta colored, corrugated metal panels, standing out while drawing inspiration from the red brick masonry that defines the existing streetscape. The housing and library—as well as a street-level community room—are subtly set back and staggered across the site in order to accommodate a more welcoming sidewalk presence with new street furniture, and to preserve the Taylor Street Farms community garden.

Positioned prominently at the corner of the site, the library welcomes visitors inside with soaring open spaces designed for kids, teenagers, and adults located adjacent to centralized work spaces for librarians and staff. The south and east sides of the building that face the street use large panes of glass to maximize natural sunlight, while seamlessly integrating the library’s interior with the activity of the streetscape outside. Lighting comfort and energy savings are further enabled by motorized blinds. SOM-designed wayfinding graphics visually articulate different segments and programmatic functions within the library without the need to put up walls and sacrifice daylight. Acoustic ceiling treatment and an acoustic hood over the teen area allows younger users to be a part of the space without disrupting other visitors.

Taylor Street
© Tom Harris

As part of its diverse offerings, the library includes an Early Learning Play Space, designed to support parents and caregivers in developing early literacy skills in children through play; a YOUmedia space for teens to explore digital design, music, technology, 3D and 2D making with the help of skilled mentors; individual study room; and spaces dedicated to workforce development and technology for adults.

Intended to contribute to the revitalization of the Little Italy neighborhood and accommodate an expanding community, the project provides 37 CHA units, 29 affordable units, and 7 market-rate units with floor-to-ceiling windows to create bright, daylit interiors with views of downtown Chicago. A green roof with native plantings provides additional spaces for tenants to socialize.

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