The National Society of Arts and Letters

Harold Washington Library in Chicago


Chicago Architecture – is the past, boldly stepped into the future. This unusual and daring mix of retro, Art Nouveau styles, designs, flavors and talented ideas. In the stone, granite and glass, as in a good cocktail, mixed feelings and dreams of famous architects. It all together and created the rock symphony Windy City.

It is located in Chicago, the world’s largest public library ( 756,640 square futov/70 294 m2), where each immigrant can ” dig ” a book in their own language. It bears the name of Harold Washington – Chicago’s first African-American mayor, politics and lawyer, made ??great efforts to create a library.

At first glance, a magnificent building can be attributed to historical buildings. But it is not. To the public library doors opened in 1991, although the book collection has been around since 1897. Books were kept for a long time at the Cultural Center of Chicago, but when in the 70th years of the XX century, their number has increased many times, have not found anything better than to take the whole book collection in the usual storage room. And only thanks to the personal intervention of Harold Washington was a competition for the new library building.

Big idea ” born ” in the bowels of the architectural company Hammond, Bibi and Grandma (Hammond, Beeby and Babka), now known as Bibi Hammond Rupert Ainge Inc.. (Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge, Inc.,), Which in 1987 won the competition to design the city library.

With the support of Harold Washington and wealthy Pritzker family of Chicago was selected on the land plot of Congress Parkway and State Street (Congress Parkway and State Street), which occupied the whole block. When completed in 1991 the new Mayor Richard Daley named the building in honor of the late Washington, a supporter of reading and education among residents of Chicago. Harold Washington Library opened on October 7, 1991. Since completion of construction, she appeared in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest public library building in the world.

Huge building something like a castle. In the thick walls of red brick embedded aluminum windows and tinted glass. Narrow windows resembling loopholes, pass facade almost from the foundation to the roof. The bottom part is made of large granite blocks. Sit on the roof of the library formidable mythological creatures, and on the ninth floor is a conservatory. Appearance Harold Washington Library reminds Rookery Building, Auditorium and Monadnock (Rookery, Auditorium and Monadnock). Gables and a large part of the western side, which faces Plymouth Court, made ??of glass, steel and aluminum with an ornament in the style of Mannerism.

Many people call this building controversial from an architectural point of view. In 2009, Travel + Leisure magazine even included it in the top ten ugliest buildings in the world. Made in the neoclassical style, it combines seemingly incongruous red brick, granite and polished aluminum with glass. But whatever it was, ten floors library could not be better equipped to store funds and work with books. Today the library collection consists of more than twelve million books and manuscripts, many of which are classified as rare.

In 1993 the roof was decorated with seven large aluminum, painted in green color acroteria Kent Bloomer (Kent Bloomer) and the figure of an owl – the symbol of knowledge – Kaskeya Raymond (Raymond Kaskey).

Now go on the floors.

– The lower level Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, multi-purpose room and exhibition hall (Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, Multi-Purpose Room and Exhibit Hall).

– Central Hall occupies two floors. On the eastern side is a library of popular literature (Popular Library).

– On the second floor – Thomas Hughes Children’s Library (Thomas Hughes Children’s library).

– The third floor is the entrance to the main library. Here you will meet the clerks at the reception and distribution of the books and use the computers for public use, periodicals, interlibrary loan and general information services.

– The fourth – the literature on business, scientific and technical books.

– On the fifth floor – sets of laws, government decrees and orders, maps, a center for the blind and people with disabilities.

– Sixth Floor – social sciences and history resources.

– On the seventh floor every immigrant found the book in their own language.

– On the eighth floor – books on art, music practice rooms, and audio- room.

– The ninth floor has a winter garden, which can be rented for various social events, exhibitions and special events.

– The tenth floor is closed to the public. There are offices and library technical services.