Northtown Library and Apartments

Chicago, Illinois
An Intergenerational Community Hub

West Ridge is one of Chicago’s most diverse neighborhoods in terms of income, ethnicity, race, religion and age. Residents enjoy a tapestry of cultures and ideas, but, as demographics change, many local seniors found fewer and fewer housing options they could afford.

Enter this innovative collocation project, one of three in Chicago and among the first in the nation, which combines the amenities of the local library with 44 affordable apartments for seniors to encourage life-long learning.

A colorful mural by a neighborhood artist adorns the lobby, anchoring the community at street level. Residents of the apartments enjoy generous daylight and views of the neighboring park, along with improved access to the library and public transportation.

Today, West Ridge residents of all ages live, learn, and socialize in this forward-thinking space serving as a model for collocated housing in other cities.

What it Is
A new type of community amenity that combines a library with affordable housing for seniors.
Double height glazed lobbies connect the library to the senior housing, inspiring community interaction between the inside and outside, the public and private.

The public spaces at both ends of the library serve the diverse needs of the neighborhood. YouMedia Lab at one end showcases teens and technology, and the other—a community room and lobby—supports community performances and houses an artist-in-residence. These public areas are available after regular library hours, further offering people of all ages the opportunity to connect, explore, and access programming. At this busy corner near a large park and several bus routes, these public amenities are a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

The library is anchored at both ends with vibrant community spaces, one showcasing teens and technology, while a community room and lobby at the opposite end will house an artist-inresidence, and be available to the community after regular library hours.
What Makes It Cool
Generations come together to learn, work, and socialize in this new amenity-rich neighborhood library.
Shaping of the stacks and the lighting above helps create paths and destinations visible across the space.
Modular housing units wind above from the west to the east, enlivening the typical residential corridor while creating roof gardens that acknowledge the public park to the east and the quiet residential neighborhood to the west.

Project Team

Derek Jones
Mark Walsh
Ralph Johnson