Friday, February 20, 2015

Harold Washington Library Center
 by: chicago designslinger

[Harold Washington Library Center (1991) Hammond, Beeby & Babka, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

It took the Chicago Public Library 15 years to relocate its main branch from Sheply Rutan & Coolidge's 1897-era nod to Classical architecture on Michigan Avenue, to Hammond, Beeby & Babka's 1991 postmodern statement on State Street. During that decade-and-a-half, three quarters of the 8 million volume, publicaly accessible collection spent time "temporarily," housed in an old warehouse.  

 [Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Finally though, in the Fall of 1991, the Harold Washington Library Center opened to the public. The journey to get to this block-long plot of land on South State Street was long and arduous, but the architects gave the citizenry an instantly recognizable landmark.

  [Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The journey from Michigan Avenue to State Street began in 1969 when librarians alerted city officials that their grand Tiffany mosaic-lined, glass-domed structure was out-of-date and out-of-room.
A plan was proposed that called for tearing down the old building and constructing a new facility on the same site. But that scheme was filed away within a year for an alternative idea which called for incorporating the older building into a newly built facility. Then politics got in the way. After the turmoil of four mayoral administrations in a 7 year period, finally, in 1986, during Mayor Harold Washington's tenure, the Library Board, with city secured land in hand, floated a $175 million bond issue to provide funds for the new building, as well as the entire city-wide, library branch system. It took $144 million of those dollars to complete the central library, but unfortunately Mayor Washington didn't live long enough to see the facility completed, he died of a heart attack November 25, 1987 and the building was named in his honor.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.