Sponsored by The Hyatt Foundation


The Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago, Illinois

A competition in 1988 led to the selection of the design of the Chicago firm Hammond Beeby & Babka to build the new main library in downtown Chicago. Opened in 1991, three of the four facades of the weighty building recall neo-classical structures and Chicago’s legacy of fine buildings, such as the Auditorium Theater or the Monadnock Building. These facades are faced in stone and brick with five-story tall architect windows. The west façade, however, is sheathed in glass and steel creating a neutral backdrop for the significant buildings across the street from the library. The building is crowned with a prominent roof adorned with owls perched in foliage, giant seed pods, symbolizing the crops of the Midwest and other classically inspired details.

The grand space of the Library is found at the top of the building. The sky lit Winter Garden recalls a generous exterior courtyard and formed the setting for the 1992 Pritzker Architecture Prize ceremony when Alvaro Siza of Portugal received the award.