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Harold Washington Children’s Library

Chicago, Illinois

The newly renovated 26,000-square-foot Thomas Hughes Children’s Library was designed as part of a master plan for the Chicago Public Library system to help children grow from spectators to active participants and as a parent incubator to support the city’s resources for caretakers. The design is based on the imaginative thrill of an empty box – where kids seem to have more fun with the box than the toy it contains. The design solution creates myriad possibilities for imaginative growth, with different areas for each reading level and places to foster social skills between similar ages, while a central plaza maintains visual connection between groups that is important for development and supervision. The space was conceived as part of Chicago Public Library’s vision for itself as “home of the curious” and features playful, reconfigurable furniture and a maker’s studio where parents and children can come together to create new things.

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