Francis W. Parker School Kovler Family Library

Chicago, Illinois


Francis W. Parker School


10,800 sq.ft.

Total Cost


Completion Date


The transformation of the library at Francis W. Parker School is immediately evident; students no longer go into a narrow corridor, but instead enter a 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. Daylight from the once contained corridor floods the space, and library seating and study space spills out.

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 one another and the librarians; a video conferencing area; and a Lego table, which acknowledges that play is integral to learning.

United by a composition of warm beechwood and colorful tile volumes using the school’s familiar campus palette, glazed group study rooms allow borrowed light to enter the space. Pivoting writable and retractable doors encourage impromptu learning moments and separate the stacks and the Maker Lab.

A storytelling room enclosed by acoustical drapery and illuminated with dramatic lighting provides a setting for story and drama, and reading caves nestled among the books offer an opportunity for quiet study. All furnishings and book stacks are portable, so that zones of quiet study and collaborative project space can be rapidly reconfigured to lecture, performance, or social settings.

Additional Information

Associated Firm

180 Studio (Educational Design Consultant), Norcon Inc. (Contractor), Project Management Advisors, Inc. (Project Management), CharterSills (Lighting Design), IMEG (MEP Consultant), GRAEF (Structural), Corporate Concepts and Frank Cooney (Furniture)

Cost per Sq Ft


Featured in

2020 Educational Interiors Showcase

Interior category

Libraries/Media Centers

Product suppliers specified

Cabinets by Watson
Ceilings by Armstrong World Industries
Ceramic Tile by Crossville
Movable Partitions/Walls by Nana Wall Systems
Paint/Wallcoverings by Sherwin-Williams
Paint/Wallcoverings by IdeaPaint
Skylights by Skyline
Library/Media Center Furniture by Knoll
Library/Media Center Furniture by V/S America
Library/Media Center Furniture by Coalesse
Library/Media Center Furniture by Steelcase
Library/Media Center Furniture by Allsteel
Library/Media Center Furniture by Emeco
Library/Media Center Furniture by Country Casual
Library/Media Center Furniture by HON
Draperies/Blinds by Knoll
Whiteboards / Markerboards / Chalkboards by Forbo Flooring Systems
Cabinets by Wilsonart
Cabinets by Formica
Flooring by Duraflex
Draperies/Blinds by Maharam
Walls/Wall Materials by Johnsonite
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