Lake Forest Library Children's Theater


Lake Forest Library Children's Theater


Lake Forest, Illinois

The librarians wanted to add a flexible daytime theater space where storytellers, magicians and musicians could perform and videos be shown but didn't want to lose their sunny courtyard reading garden. The courtyard, surrounded by children's reading rooms in the library's basement, was however the only expansion space available. We tried to reach both goals by combining the open-air prototypes of ancient theater and walled garden to return to the classical simplicity of performers encircled by their audience beneath the open sky. We kept it simple, adding only two elements to this 1931 neo-Georgian landmark: a heavy concrete wall to hold back the earth and a sloping glass ceiling to let in the sun. The new construction respects its predecessors by touching them delicately, its transparency maintaining their separate legibility. A wooden cabinet, centered on a stage that flips out like a children's pop-up book, has panels that unfold like flats of scenery, embracing actors and audience and subdividing the space.



2004 AIA Chicago Distinguished Building Award

2002 AIA Chicago Interior Architecture Award

Architectural Record,, 02.2003, 2002




Lake Forest Library


Completed 2001

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Project Data

Area/Budget: 1,500sf / $1,000,000

Scope: enclosure of 1500sf exterior courtyard for performance space in children's library (Edwin C Clark, 1931) ; site entrance structures, signage & exterior lighting

Project Team: David Woodhouse, Brian Meade (project architect), Joel Agacki, Aaron Ebent, Richard Nowlan, David Poorman, Marsha Woodhouse

Thornton-Tomasetti (structural); Innovative Engineering Group (mep); Construction Resources Management (cost); Rudnick & Company (general contractor)

Photographer: Barbara Karant; Brian Meade; Andy Tinucci