University of Chicago wins CAF Patron of the Year Award for Mansueto Library

The University of Chicago won a 2011 Patron of the Year award from the Chicago Architecture Foundation for its role as client in the construction of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library.   Awards were announced at a ceremony at the JW Marriott Grand Ballroom on November 30.

Mansueto Library dedication dinner in Grand Reading Room
Judith Nadler speaks at the dedication dinner in the Mansueto Library Grand Reading Room. (Photo by Jason Smith)

The Chicago Architecture Foundation presents awards to outstanding clients of architecture in the Chicago area. Winning patrons are evaluated by a jury that considers the client’s contribution to a project alongside a project’s design merit. The awards were initiated in 2004 when CAF trustee Steven G.M. Stein suggested that, for all of the public attention lavished on architecture in Chicago, few recognize the role of clients.

“Good architecture,” Stein said, “requires more than a good architect. It requires a great client—a risk-taker.”

Accepting the award for the University of Chicago, Director and University Librarian Judith Nadler made these remarks:

“I am honored to receive this Patron of the Year Award on behalf of the University of Chicago.

The question we come here to consider today is why patronage of great architecture is so important.  For the University of Chicago, the answer is this. Only great architecture could express the bold commitment the University has made in constructing the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library.

At a time when other universities have begun shipping collections to little-seen off-campus facilities, the University of Chicago has chosen to emphasize the centrality of libraries by building ours at the heart of campus.

To express that commitment, we needed a bold architect—Helmut Jahn—who would realize our vision through great design.

Everyone who walks into the Grand Reading Room of the Mansueto Library is struck by the enormous beauty of the space and empowered by the connection it makes between knowledge, earth, and sky. Much is demanded of our students and researchers. By creating a place of beauty, of serenity, of openness and light, the Mansueto Library helps our students and scholars to know that much can be achieved.

Thank you again for your recognition of this magnificent library.”