Fountaindale Public Library

Serving Teens, Children and a Growing Community
Symbolic throughout children’s literature, trees serve as the iconic elements in this children’s library, located just within the main library entry. The interactive Dragon Trees of the Fountaindale Public Library stand strong and proud, creating a forest of adventure and discovery where every visit is a story in which to take part.

At the onset of the project, during participatory design, the children’s librarians referenced a delightful storybook by Jane Langton in which children save a tree from adults who want to cut it down. This was the design impetus for bringing these delicate Dragon Trees to life, with slender metal-framed trunks reaching out and inviting children to a landscape where art and story come alive. Rather than overpowering and dwarfing, each tree is individual, planting distinct opportunities for interaction and play under outstretched canopies. Quotations and snippets from great stories appear on the underside of the canopies, with typography designed by artist Matthew Hoffman.

Children may notice that the Dragon Tree frames resemble the bases of the classic modernist chairs, a deliberate design connection. The Storytelling Room supports programming, while parent-friendly children’s collections are easy to access. The Dragon Trees are sited to create vistas within the children’s library, while taking advantage of the views out-of-doors. Their palettes are warm, charming, and sophisticated. The Children’s Library and its Dragon Trees sets a literature-rich landscape for a variety of spaces to learn, play, study, and read.

Upstairs, the Vortex draws teens into a relevant, energized 3500 SF, which they helped brainstorm and name. They desired a microcosm of the real adult library with a diversity of resources and an increased book collection. It was critical that the teen library have an identity and form that spoke to their interests and aesthetics. Vortex imagery, Asian influences, clever materials, reconfigurable informal and formal study space entice and surprise. Elements include an animé wall wrap, computer bar, a Think Epic chain drape, and the two-sided seating that faces either performance or media. The XL Big Table is a real social network for interaction, a communal feast of face-to-face. This is design by, for, and about teens that is not at all pristine. The Vortex is casual, considered, and carefully crafted.

To download a copy of Cindy Coleman’s article from Chicago Architect magazine on the Vortex Teen Library, click here:
The Teen Scene: Library Space for Teenagers Flexes, Slouches With Them

Design Excellence Award, American Society of Interior Designers, 2011.
Award given for significant achievement for a public project.

Owner:  Fountaindale Public Library
Interior Architecture & Interactive Design:  Architecture Is Fun, Inc.
Art & Designed Object Sourcing & Procurement:  Fun Finders
Architect of Record:  Nagle Hartray Architecture
Location:  Bolingbrook/Illinois
Status:  Completed 2011
Photography:  © Doug Snower Photography