Francis W. Parker School Kovler Family Library

  • area / size 10,800 sqft
  • Completed 2018
  • Eckenhoff Saunders designed the Francis W. Parker School Kovler Family Library for the private, independent JK-12 school in Chicago, Illinois.

    The project is the result of discussions regarding whether the library function was fulfilling its role within school community life. It was conventional in every way, stacks of floor to ceiling books radiated from a central command-and-control style checkout desk. The space acting, largely as a repository for books and resources which were more guarded than gifted.

    The library’s transformation is immediately evident as students no longer enter a narrow corridor but instead enter a new lush gallery planted with green walls, furnished with comfortable seating and populated with the school’s sculpture collection and student art. No longer hidden from view, the corridor wall has been replaced with operable glass partitions thrown open throughout the day, making corridor and library one free-flowing space and inviting in all who pass through.

    The library is organized using a freeform millwork “tree” that folds organically through the space first as ceiling, then floor, then furnishing. At various places, this meandering element creates “Genius Hubs” where students engage with each other and the librarians, a video conferencing area, and a Lego Table, acknowledging that play is integral to learning.

    Group study rooms allow borrowed light to enter the space and pivoting writable, and retractable doors for impromptu learning moments separate the stacks and the Maker Lab. A story-telling room with dramatic lighting provides a setting for story and drama, and Reading Caves nestled among the books offer the opportunity for quiet study. All furnishings and book stacks are portable, allowing zones of quiet study and collaborative project space to be rapidly reconfigured to lecture, performance, or social settings.

    Architect: Eckenhoff Saunders
    Educational Design Consultant: 180 Studio
    Owner’s Representative: Project Management Advisors, Inc.
    Contractor: Norcon
    Photography: Mariusz Mizera