tvsdesign Transforms Pritzker Military Library on Michigan Avenue

tvsdesign Melds Historic Design with Technology for New Location

Mar 16, 2011, 10:10 ET from tvsdesign

CHICAGO, March 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A little-known cultural icon will soon have a much higher profile as the Pritzker Military Library moves to the Gothic-style historic Monroe Building located at 104 S. Michigan Ave. across from the Art Institute of Chicago. 

The 1912 16-story building has been undergoing a major renovation and modernization.  The Chicago office of tvsdesign, which designed three floors, ensured that the building's historic fabric remained while state-of-the-art technology and space management was incorporated into the design.

"The Pritzker Military Library is a wonderful opportunity for design to assist in illuminating the Library's assets," said Marc Adelman, principal with tvsdesign. "We were charged with capturing the essence of the Library's mission in the design of the space and display of the special artifacts and materials that are part of this one-of-a-kind collection. The traditional design aesthetic we have created is in keeping with the historic building, including coffered ceilings, intricately designed wood paneling, and extensive wood molding and millwork. We also were sensitive to creating a space that would attract many demographic types to this original athenaeum."

tvsdesign, which also has offices in Atlanta, Dubai and Shanghai, conducted a Charrette/Vision workshop in order to ensure that the space design would meet the expectations of the Library and its visitors.  The two-day Charrette involved participation from all stakeholders in the project as well as participation by leaders of 10 cultural institutions across the country.

"The Charrette strategically defines the collective vision of all participants and ensures that the design of the Library meets these expectations while still being true to form and function," said Adelman.

Colonel (IL) James N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Retired), founded the Library in 2003 with about 7,500 books, mostly taken from his private and family collection. 

Today, the Library collection features more than 50,000 items including books, videos, periodicals, artwork, posters, and rare military artifacts, along with over 9,000 photographs and glass negatives from the American Civil War and Spanish-American War through the present day.  Letters and journals from American soldiers and a sizable collection related to Winston Churchill are among the rare books in the Library's growing special collection.

The new location, at the corner of Michigan and Monroe in Chicago's Loop, will help the Library garner visibility and attention.  Gary Johnson, president of the Chicago History Museum, calls the Pritzker "a hidden treasure."

The Library is the only one of its kind outside a military base.  The general public may visit and watch programs with authors, Medal of Honor recipients and other dignitaries.  Books are circulated to members and through inter-library loan.

"We're thrilled that the project is nearly completed and that tvsdesign has helped us create the new home for our collection and programs," said President and CEO of the Pritzker Military Library, Ed Tracy. "Our new facility will help us continue to increase our membership, host historians, authors, and journalists, and produce a wide range of popular events that will further the mission of the Library."

Since 2003, the Library has produced more than 300 programs including interviews with Medal of Honor recipients Paul W. Bucha and Gary Littrell.  Programs are webcast live on the Library's website, archived for later viewing, and available as podcasts.  The new facility will have the capacity to continue to expand the Library's offerings, which have been broadcast weekly on WYCC, a PBS television affiliate, for more than three years.

To facilitate these events, tvsdesign has incorporated into its renovation design flexible galleries for traveling and permanent exhibits as well as 110-seat, two-story lecture hall and broadcast center to host a range of program offerings, an oral history room to record past and present stories of visitors and a special collections room for rare and out-of-print books, administrative offices, catering spaces for receptions and rare book receiving and archival area.

"A particular challenge was creating a special recording environment in the new Library as the lecture hall sits right next to the Chicago 'L' train and special noise-abatement features had to be incorporated," said tvsdesign's Adelman.

The Pritzker Military Library will celebrate its opening in April 2011. For more information and a schedule of upcoming events, visit

ABOUT tvsdesign

tvsdesign is a global design firm within planning, architecture and interior design with offices in Chicago, Atlanta, Dubai and Shanghai. Recognized for its work in convention and public assembly, cultural arts, retail, corporate office and workplace,, education, government, hospitality and mixed-use design, tvsdesign's sustainable design experience encompasses 21 LEED Certified and 15 LEED registered projects. tvsdesign has garnered numerous prestigious awards, including the American Institute of Architects Firm Award in 2002.  For more information, visit

SOURCE tvsdesign