Chicago Kids Asked to Design Neighborhood Micro-Libraries

Registration recently opened for a design competition for Chicago high school students interested in architecture.  Students are asked to come up with a design for a public library that also functions as a public gathering space.

Chicago skyline

Imagine dozens of small libraries scattered throughout the city.

The challenge is that the library has to be small in size, but big on amenities.  Small means cheap, and the goal is to come up with a scheme that can be deployed in small spaces around the city.  The fictional setting for this libraryette is a 75×125′ lot in what’s left of Little Italy.

We love the idea of dozens and dozens of micro-libraries scattered around the city, serving traditional bibliographic needs as well as the need for “third spaces” in a city increasingly hostile to public loitering without spending $6 on a cup of coffee. (Remember when Chicago had public benches on the sidewalks?)   We look forward to seeing the designs, and hope some of them are good enough to be implemented.  Or at least to inspire City Hall bureaucrats.

The contest is sponsored by British Petroleum and run by the Chicago Architecture Foundation as part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial.  Prizes?  Oh, yes, there are prizes.  But nobody is saying exactly what they are just yet. All we’ve been able to find out is “free design software and varying cash prizes.” If that’s enough to get your kid’s creative juices flowing, then  clicketh thy mouse hereth for more information.



Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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