North Shore Country Day School Hall Library

Winnetka, Illinois

After a water pipe burst in the early hours of February 2019, water flooded the Hall Library rendering it uninhabitable. The library is at the heart of the campus and serves all students JK-12 daily. Almost eight months later, the Hall Library reopened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in late September. While the renovated library is in a similar footprint as the old one, the space is unrecognizable and embraces the “Learning Commons” model. As teaching and learning become more project-based and collaborative, libraries are evolving and becoming spaces for that work to occur.

The reimagined Hall Library features collaborative and quiet study spaces, a beautiful new lower school area with a theater-in-the-round and “reading caves” for the littlest students, and flexible furniture throughout for various projects. The library also houses the Live+Serve Laboratory, a manifestation of the school’s motto “Live and Serve.” The library is a place for active, hands-on, student-centered learning and creating, with a focus on active service and global citizenship. It contains tools to prototype ideas—a small laser cutter, 3-D printer, sewing machines, and a digital media space for video and audio production.

As it evolves, the lab will be a natural launching pad for educational and entrepreneurial connections to local universities, businesses, and nonprofits. Most importantly, the school intends for this space to re-emphasize the importance of project-based and service-learning in their JK-12 curriculum. A wide stairway connects the library with the Conant Science Center above.

This new vertical access is not only a beautiful architectural statement but also a gathering and presentation space and allows light from the science center skylights into the library. Also, the science center includes a new classroom for lower school science completing the original vision of science classes for JK-12 in the same space to promote collaboration across all ages.


Client/Owner: North Shore Country Day School

Education Design Consultant: 180 Studio

General Contractor: Valenti Builders

Photographer: Mariusz Mizera Photography