New Irving Park Library Is Books on the Bottom, Apartments on Top

We live in an age when a world of information is available on tiny computers in our pockets.  It’s also an age when any 12-year-old with an internet connection on the other side of the planet can vandalize that information and make you believe whatever he wants.  So actual libraries are more important than ever, and in some places more popular than ever.

Last year people sought information at Chicago Public Libraries 8.4 million times.  That’s almost 1,200 Super Bowls.  So any time a new library opens in Chicago, it’s a score for the entire city.

Chicago Public Library Independence Branch opening (Courtesy of Evergreen Real Estate)

Chicago Public Library Independence Branch opening (Courtesy of Evergreen Real Estate)

The newest CPL gridiron is the Independence Branch, at 4024 North Elston Avenue in Irving Park.  The facility kicked off recently with Mayor Rahm Emanuel quarterbacking the ribbon-cutting ceremony.  But what really makes this a touchdown is that it’s more than just a library.

Seeking to tackle Chicago’s elderly housing problem, the team at Evergreen Real Estate built the project as a library downstairs, and 44 senior apartments upstairs.  Seeking to fill the gap, there are 30 public housing units and 14 affordable apartments.

John Ronan Architects gets extra points for a game plan involving open layouts, and lot of glass to let the sun shine in.  And when people need to huddle, there are plenty of corners back where people can punt around ideas, or just grind out some work.

This isn’t the first time Evergreen has moved the chains with this kind of building.  It planted a similar flag last spring at The Northtown Library and Apartments at 6800 North Western in West Rogers Park, designed by Perkins + Will.


Location: 4024 North Elston Avenue, Irving Park

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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