Northtown Library and Apartments
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.
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.