University of Chicago, Law School Library Tower

Chicago, Illinois

  • FIRM



    University of Chicago

  • AREA

    80,000 sq.ft.





On the heels of its centennial, the University of Chicago Law School began renovating key areas of its landmark, late-1950s campus.

In approaching the renovation of the six-floor library tower, the design team intended to respect Saarinen’s mid-century modern building, while enhancing the facility’s functionality, ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCOST PER SQ FT$228.75FEATURED IN2010 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYRenovation and experience. The design worked within the building’s grid and with a limited finish palette appropriate to the original architecture, yet providing a richer, more humane environment.

New technologies allowed for the removal of a large portion of the stacks, opening space for circulation, study, a faculty multipurpose room and a large gathering space.

The law school’s student services were consolidated into the library’s third floor to better engage students with the reading room. Low ceilings and limited daylight made the existing space feel claustrophobic. Acoustical wood ceilings house improved lighting with the added benefit of improving wayfinding, acoustics and overall aesthetics.

A new stair, designed in context with the building, is an engaging focal point, creating an energizing, connecting sculpture for the revitalized library.