Charles Deering Library West Entry Restoration

Evanston, Illinois / United States of America

Upon completion of Northwestern’s University Library in 1970, James Gamble Rogers’s 1933 Deering Library’s front entrance was permanently closed. Building access was re-routed through a basement corridor connecting it to the new library, thus compromising its intended role as ceremonial portal to the precincts of knowledge.

Restoration of the entrance and lobby provides a new face for the combined library complex, strengthens connections between Deering and Main Library and preserves the unique architectural character of Deering’s spaces.

Work included construction of a new, accessible entry route and plaza fronting on the adjacent meadow, new custom-designed lamp standards and railings, new landscaping, accommodation for assembly podia and media hookups, restoration of exterior lighting and finishes and re-commissioning of the original entry doors. Masonry details match original work and sandstone paving matches that which was removed decades ago. Inside, work included repair and restoration of historic finishes, assemblies, and a new security station and entry vestibules stipulated to be indistinguishable from the building’s original architecture. This encompassed restoration and augmentation of historic lighting, new custom-designed, archival-quality display vitrines, custom signage standards, and custom-designed light fixtures.

Building-wide work included improvements to accessible routes, elevator, security and life-safety enhancements, and redesign of the corridor linking Deering to Main library, including new finishes, lighting, signage, millwork and integrated digital media displays designed to clearly mark the point of transition between Main and Deering.

Architect of Record

HBRA Architects Inc.


Northwestern University

General Contractor

W. B. Olsen


  • WMA Consulting Engineers, Ltd.
  • Rubinos & Mesia Engineers, Inc.
  • Anne Kustner Lighting Design