The South Bend Main Library campus occupies a 3.4-acre block in downtown South Bend, and receives over 1,000 visitors per day. The renovation addresses South Bend’s extensive commercial and residential growth in recent years, and further integrates the library into the community, making the campus a cornerstone of a redeveloping downtown district.
The 85,000-square-foot renovation updates and modernizes the existing 116,500-square-foot library, while maintaining traditional library services—a much expanded children’s library, comfortable places to read, plenty of public computers, and a dignified suite of spaces for local history and family genealogy. The project also includes a new 40,000-square-foot Community Education Center, containing a 252-seat auditorium, classrooms, seminar rooms, public computers, office space, and a multi-purpose hall that seats up to 250 people.
The new building sits on the east side of the block, defining the street edge and, together with the existing building, forming a landscaped courtyard ringed with a glassed-in arcade. The street-side entry to the new building creates an urban civic presence for the library on Michigan Street, terminating the lively commercial presence developing in the area. The protected south-facing courtyard will be usable for library activities and receptions associated with the civic auditorium, which can be entered separately from the library, allowing it to operate on extended hours. The courtyard also connects directly to the ground floor community event space, and to the Michigan Street entry lobby’s café.
The project represents a partnership between St. Joseph County, the City of South Bend, and the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County, who will move their offices into the new complex.