Leopardo Project Wins AIA/ALA Library Award

The Leopardo-built Independence Library and Apartments has won the AIA/ALA Library Building Award, presented by the American Institute of Architects in partnership with the American Library Association and Library Leadership and Management Association. The honor recognizes the best in library architecture, from the entire structure to all aspects of its design.

Honored among four other structures, the 82,050-square-foot, six-story, LEED Gold-seeking building located at 4022 N. Elston Ave. in Chicago uniquely bundles a public library with affordable housing. The library portion officially opened in January 2019 with a ribbon cutting attended by then mayor, Rahm Emmanuel. The apartment portion of the project wrapped in early fall 2019.

The library features an open floor plan with large expanses of natural light, comfortable seating, easily accessible and mobile shelving, group tables, play areas and a community room. The building also includes a graduated seating staircase, rooftop terrace and garden, as well as a parking structure with a park-like area off the second floor with spaces for library patrons.

The apartments portion occupies the four floors above the library branch and consists of 44 affordable residences for seniors, each of which features a colorful balcony. In addition to the library, tenant amenities include a fitness room and access to the rooftop green space.

Serving as general contractor, Leopardo collaborated with John Ronan Architects, Chicago Public Libraries, Chicago Housing Authority and Evergreen Real Estate Group to complete the project.

Photos © James Florio