Franck & Lohsen Architects

McEssy Center & Feehan Library

Mundelein, Illinois

Located at the heart of the historic Mundelein Seminary, the history Feehan Library houses the largest collection of Theological books in the country. The Neo-Georgian style of the architecture is prevalent throughout the campus and is much loved and respected. The reading room with a vibrantly colored, coffered ceiling is emblematic of the importance of knowledge and education. This project included the reorganization of the stack spaces, a new rare book room, a new circulation desk and the restoration of the historic interiors. New building systems such as communication, climate control, and weatherproofing will help to ensure the longevity and the enjoyment of the important collections housed.

This project began, following the successful completion of an annex known as the McEssy Theological Center which was the first new structure erected on the campus of Mundelein Seminary since 1930. Designed to fit seamlessly into the historic Georgian context, this building reinforces the campus through its reverence of the existing Neo-Georgian architecture and through its visual and physical connection to the main chapel.

Originally, a three-sided pergola was located on each side of the chapel; however, much of the pergola was built of wood and deteriorated. The location of this new building enabled the rebuilding of two arms of the pergola, with the new building serving as the third side of the pergola.

Facing the recreated exterior courtyard with five arched doorways, the new main reading room is intentionally casual so as to serve double-duty as the central meeting point on campus for friends, family, and visitors. Display cases and niches for existing artwork and sculpture add a visual richness to the space.

The McEssy Center is connected to the existing Feehan Library via a pedestrian bridge to facilitate the necessary function of a library while also enabling flow through the campus.