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Brand New West Loop Library With 3D Printing, Recording Studio And More Opens This Week

The 16,500-square-foot library will also include a children’s area and five private meeting and study rooms, library officials said.

City officials are set to unveil one of the city’s newest libraries in the booming West Loop Thursday morning.
Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
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WEST LOOP — City officials are set to unveil one of the city’s newest libraries at a site donated by prominent developer Sterling Bay in the booming West Loop Thursday morning.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) and Chicago Public Library officials are expected to come together to cut the ribbon on the city’s 81st branch library at 9 a.m. Thursday at 118 N. Aberdeen St.

Opening-day hours Thursday are scheduled from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. with regular hours beginning Friday.

In addition to this week’s ribbon cutting, Chicago Public Libraries will hold a larger community celebration from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, library officials said.

The first floor includes an adult reading area, a children’s early learning space and a children’s reading corner. There’s also a tinkering lab and a youth media digital space with a recording studio, 3D printers and vinyl cutters. The second floor includes a large community space, five private meeting and study rooms and two conference rooms, officials said.

The 16,500-square-foot library includes a youth-focused digital area with a recording studio, a children’s area and five private meeting and study rooms. 

Skidmore, Owings and Merrill Design partner Brian Lee, who designed the Chinatown Library, was brought on board to convert the two-story building — part of the former Harpo Studios campus— that was donated by West Loop developer Sterling Bay.

Credit: Sterling Bay
Renderings of the West Loop library’s ground floor.

Plans for the library were unveiled during a neighborhood meeting hosted by Burnett, the Chicago Public Library and developer Sterling Bay last April.

During the meeting, Chicago Public Library Commissioner and CEO Brian Bannon lauded Sterling Bay for donating the building and equipment for the project.

“It’s a pretty extraordinary thing to open a brand new library in a neighborhood that hasn’t had a library before,” Bannon said at the time. “If you’ve seen development happening around the city in terms of libraries, it’s all been replacement of existing libraries. It’s a huge undertaking to do a brand new library.”

Credit: Sterling Bay
Renderings of the children’s reading corner
Credit: Sterling Bay
Renderings of the children’s area at the West Loop library

The library was initially slated to be built at the old Coyne College campus, another Sterling Bay-owned site, in Fulton Market. But the developer later abandoned that plan, and considered two or three other sites in the neighborhood, including locating the library inside the new McDonald’s corporate headquarters building, before settling on the Aberdeen site.

Sterling Bay has developed several high-profile projects in the neighborhood, including the McDonald’s headquarters, Google Chicago’s headquarters and Ace Hotel in Fulton Market. 

The public libraries closest to the West Loop are the Roosevelt branch, 1101 W. Taylor St. in Little Italy, the Manning branch, 6 S. Hoyne Ave. a few blocks west of the United Center on the Near West Side, and the West Town branch, 1625 W. Chicago Ave. in West Town.

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