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Type: Cultural, Education, Library

Size: 35,000 sq ft / 3,250 sq m

Status: Completed 1977

Recognition: AIA Chicago Chapter Award; AIA American Library Association First Honor Award; AIA Illinois Council Honor Award; AISC Award

Completed in 1977, the Michigan City Public Library transformed how we approach the use of transparency and natural light in our body of work. Exterior walls constructed out of translucent fiberglass allow sunlight to enter during the day and create a gentle glow outside at night, with insulation helping maximize energy efficiency. Above, a sawtooth roof is divided into seven sections of long clearstory windows, engineered to filter in soft northern daylight while shielding patrons from the harsh southern sun. The library occupies a downtown site, creating a spatial closure to Franklin Mall, the main commercial spine.

The Michigan City Public Library building contains areas for adult services, reference and information, children’s services, audiovisual resources, technical services, administration, and a business office. Common areas include the lobby, a circulation desk, and a flexible meeting room complex. The program is organized within a one-story lofted space. An interior court is located asymmetrically along the diagonal axis. All office and work areas are located along the perimeter, enclosed by freestanding partitions. Only the permanent and movable walls of the meeting room complex extend to the structure and roof to provide acoustical privacy.

The building serves as the main branch facility for the Michigan City Public Library system. Upon its debut, the 35,000-square-foot library became an architectural landmark in the city, winning numerous awards and ushering in a new era of modern building design for our practice. 

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