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Chatham’s Whitney Young Library begins $12 million makeover and expansion

The South Side branch will be renovated into a state-of-the-art facility

Image courtesy of bKL Architecture

A major overhaul of the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Branch Library in Chicago’s Chatham neighborhood officially broke ground on Monday afternoon. The $12 million project aims to transform the dark brick building at 79th Street and King Drive into a bright and fully modernized community amenity.

The redesign comes from Chicago-based bKL Architecture in collaboration with architect of record Johnson & Lee and will incorporate the exterior walls of the existing South Side structure as well as expand the library by an additional 2,800 square feet.

“This is not a complete tear down and rebuild. Due to a high-quality original design and ‘good bones,’ the existing building is an ideal candidate for a gut renovation and expansion,” Carina E. Sanchez, Executive Director of the Public Building Commission, said in a statement. “This project will enhance the quality and architectural design of the neighborhood, provide jobs during the construction period, and leave the community with enhanced library resources.”

Among those expanded resources are new computers, seating areas, meeting and study rooms, an early learning play space, outdoor courtyard, and a high-tech media lab for teenagers. The renovation will also ensure full ADA accessibility as well as upgrade the building’s mechanical systems and lighting to be more energy efficient.

Construction is anticipated to wrap-up by late 2018.

Image Courtesy of bKL Architecture
Image Courtesy of bKL Architecture
Image Courtesy of bKL Architecture