Harold Washington Library

Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago, Illinois

Rising amidst the iconic buildings of Chicago, the Harold Washington Library stands 10 stories high and has been noted as one of the largest libraries in the United States. The architects responsible for the building, Hammond, Beeby and Babka are known for producing designs which employ modernism with historical allusion, often described as belonging to the postmodern movement of design.

Zahner's involvement on the project was in regards to the architectural forms and building cornices designed by artists Kent Bloomer and Raymond Kaskey . These works form the iconic figurehead of the building, a modern take on the gargoyle iconography and the flourishes of baroque sculptures in patinated copper tones. However, the sculptures produced were actually manufactured using contemporary materials, plates of aluminum, riveted and finished with a polyester finish in the traditional verdigris tone.

The aluminum leaf forms and steel cornice railing are each powder coated with a green-toned polyester finish. Zahner provided the larger forms of these acroterion, using a foam placeholder for the smaller sculptures welded to these artworks. The animal sculptures were produced by the artist studio, and attached by Zahner.

Architectural forms for Harold Washington Library in the Zahner shop

Architectural forms for Harold Washington Library in the Zahner shop.

A shipment of the cornices for Harold Washington Library leaves the Zahner shop.

A shipment of the cornices for Harold Washington Library leaves the Zahner shop.

The aluminum cornices for the Harold Washington Library in Chicago, Illinois

The aluminum cornices for the Harold Washington Library in Chicago, Illinois.

A foam placeholder stands in for the cast owl acroterion sculpture prior to installation

A foam placeholder stands in for the cast owl acroterion sculpture prior to installation.

A single panel of the Harold Library cornices at the painter

A single panel of the Harold Library cornices at the painter.

The completed building, Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago

The completed building, Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago.
Photo courtesy Notre Dame.

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