Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) CEO Eugene Jones, Jr. and Chicago Public Library (CPL) Commissioner Brian Bannon today to announce an interagency partnership that will provide three new mixed-income housing developments with co-located libraries - strengthening communities with affordable housing and community anchors that support life-long learning. In a break from the standard, cookie-cutter designs that are common to government buildings, Mayor Emanuel envisions striking and bold architectural designs for these buildings. As part of the projects, he will call on architectural firms to bid on the work and use their creativity to leave a lasting legacy of public art in neighborhoods across Chicago.
“Chicago will be one of the first cities using this type of partnership between housing and libraries to benefit and beautify our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This model will create spaces everyone can enjoy, and I hope will be the next great civic projects here in Chicago.”
The announcement was made at the Northtown Branch Library in West Ridge, that will be replaced with a new branch library to be located on the ground floor of a senior apartment building near Pratt and Western avenues. Two other mixed-income housing developments with co-located libraries are also planned for the Near West Side and Irving Park communities. As part of the ongoing redevelopment of the Roosevelt Square community, a new Roosevelt Branch Library is planned near Taylor and Aberdeen streets. A new Independence Branch Library is also planned near Elston Avenue and Pulaski Road.
“By creating a new library and affordable senior housing we are able to meet vital West Ridge community needs," Alderman Debra Silverstein (50th) said. "I am grateful for the leadership and cooperation of Mayor Emanuel, the CHA and the Chicago Public Library.”
“Brining mixed-income housing and a library together will be a great addition to the 25th ward,” said Alderman Danny Solis (25th). “I look forward to the benefits of this community asset for our residents.”
“I am pleased that these projects will allow CHA to deliver new housing units on the North Side and expand affordable housing opportunities to more communities,” said CHA CEO Eugene Jones, Jr. “We know that housing is vital to our neighborhoods but strong, healthy communities also require community anchors like libraries and CHA is proud to be a partner with CPL as we move forward with this innovative plan.”
For each site, a two-stage design competition will be held to attract top-quality architects who will fully engage the community to produce an architecturally significant and community-inclusive building. Initially a Request for Qualifications will be sent to design firms. From that group, up to three pre-qualified architectural firms will be chosen to develop a conceptual design, budget and schedule. Each firm will receive a stipend for this work. An evaluation committee will review the submissions and select the winning firm.
Once the architects are selected for each project, CHA, CPL and the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development will host a design workshop with the community in which the libraries are located. The two-stage process is expected to get underway by the end of this year and take approximately 10 weeks to complete.
“Libraries play a vital role in making knowledge and learning accessible, as well as offer a common space where the community comes together,” said CPL Commissioner Brian Bannon. “Partnering with CHA is an innovative approach that better positions both of us to build a stronger foundation for our communities.”
Jones noted that with this partnership, CHA becomes one of the first public housing agencies in the country to develop co-located housing with other municipal facilities. “By combining key community assets like libraries with housing, we will ensure that affordable housing and services and programs are available to neighborhoods across the city,” Jones said.
The new library facilities will offer programs and spaces for both CHA and area children and families. Each branch will include a built-out early childhood active learning space. School-aged children will have access to the Library’s Teacher in the Library program which offers free small one on one homework assistance. Teens will have access to technology, resources, and classes that inspire exploration, creativity and learning through the YOUmedia program.
In recent years, CPL has increased technology and workforce programs for adults. These new branches will offer computer classes and one-on one coaching to build digital literacy and technology skills for adults and seniors. Staff will be trained to connect job-seekers to best-in-class career services provided by workforce development organizations and educational institutions. The Library will also continue to partner with expert workforce organizations to deliver trainings on additional skills, such as resume writing, interview prep and industry-specific skills. Traditional library programs, such as book clubs for seniors and intergenerational educational and cultural programming will also be available to these communities.
Under the leadership of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) helps build vibrant communities across the city. By using housing as a platform, the agency works with a host of key stakeholders to sustain strong neighborhoods to best prepare CHA residents for the global economy on their road toward self-sufficiency. CHA also provides stable, decent, safe and affordable housing to more than 62,000 low-income families and individuals, while supporting healthy communities in neighborhoods throughout Chicago.
About Chicago Public Library:
Since 1873, Chicago Public Library (CPL) has encouraged lifelong learning by welcoming all people and offering equal access to information, entertainment and knowledge through innovative services and programs, as well as cutting-edge technology. Each year, Chicago Public Library offers 100,000 computer help sessions, free online and in-person homework help citywide, supports 2.9 million computer sessions and draws almost 10 million visitors per year. CPL now offers many Chicago neighborhoods multimedia collaboration spaces designed for teens, Maker Labs that allow patrons to do 3D design and printing, and a website that allows patrons online access to a plethora of library materials, including eBooks, audiobooks and periodicals. CPL has seen double digit increases in reach and demand for these high-quality services. Demand for these services continues to grow in Chicago neighborhoods and investment in current and new library buildings is necessary meet these demands.