Wilmette Public Library main entrance.

In spring 2019, Wilmette Public Library broke ground on an exciting new outdoor renovation project. Designed to improve overall access to the Library’s entrances, enhance the front lawn with seating and resources to support outdoor events and performances, beautify and expand the native butterfly garden and path, and refresh the Library’s façade, the renovation has created a safe, attractive, open, and sustainable environment to welcome the community to the Library.



In spring 2019, Wilmette Public Library broke ground on its Outdoor Renovation Project. Expected to be completed in July, the renovation aims to improve the Library’s exterior areas to provide attractive, environmentally-friendly spaces that emphasize utility, durability, accessibility, and enjoyment.

Included in the work are site infrastructure improvements promoting safety and more effective/efficient grounds maintenance. Most concrete surfaces are being replaced, with the addition of a snowmelt system covering the entry plaza and walkways. The lawn is being renewed and enhanced for outdoor programming, along with new seating options. The butterfly garden is being expanded and enriched with new, all-native plant materials. The irrigation system is being replaced. Lighting is being added along the walking paths. New bike racks are being installed. Finally, new signage will be installed, including a monument sign at the intersection of Wilmette and Park Avenues. 

“The Library is eager to share the outcomes of this project with our community. A great deal of collaboration and planning went into the design,” said Director Anthony Auston. The project is part of the Library’s 2018-2021 strategic plan, and is funded entirely through capital reserves.

The renovation project plan began over 18 months ago in the fall of 2017, with a committee of library staff, board members, and community members, helmed by landscape architect Jodi Mariano, Teska Associates. Together the group developed the Landscape Master Plan as the result of research, meetings, community input, village coordination, and site studies. Shales-McNutt Construction is providing management of the construction process.

The construction project is phased to reduce the disruption of library services. Concrete work will occur during the first 6 weeks of the project, with light demolition taking place as the new walkways are installed. Patrons will continue to access the building through the front entry, with signs and fencing to safely guide pedestrian traffic around the construction areas. To prioritize patron parking during construction, the Library and Village have collaborated to relocate select staff and construction vehicles off-site. Temporary bike racks will accommodate bike parking while the concrete work is underway.

“The Wilmette community is going to like the Library's new look; more green space, beautiful native plants, and a more inviting landscape will soon greet patrons when the renovations are complete,” said Jan Barshis, Library Trustee and Landscape Committee member. “I applaud all who contributed their ideas and energy to make our library even better.”

Resources & Documents

The following updates reflect the current site planmaterials/finishes, and plant material.

The Landscape Master Plan (approved March 20, 2018) outlines the conceptual vision from which the Outdoor Renovation Project has grown and taken shape.


August 1, 2019: Summer Reading Finishing Party / Grand Re-opening Celebration on the lawn.

July 29, 2019: Remaining fences removed, new lawn mowed for first time.

July 25, 2019: Project punchlist items identified; remaining work to be completed in August. Custom bench on backside of Monument Sign will be completed and installed in late September.

July 18, 2019: Site-wide construction fencing comes down. New shrubs installed in alley.

July 15, 2019: Sod installation begins, pollinator plant installation continues.

July 10, 2019: Reading Boy statue and memorial stones re-installed.

July 8, 2019: Tree and plant installation begins. Irrigation system installation completed.

July 1, 2019: Monument sign at Wilmette and Park Avenues installed. Site preparation for new trees and plants begins.

June 27, 2019: Park Avenue sidewalk reopens, bike pad concrete is complete, and new Wilmette-branded bike racks are installed and ready to use.

June 26, 2019: Snowmelt system boiler and ventilation installation. Installation of native garden bluestone path begins.

June 17, 2019: Installation of front lawn bluestone pavers begins.June 12, 2019: Scheduled work is delayed due to continued rain, site conditions.

June 6, 2019: Electrical installation and site preparation for bluestone pavers begins.

June 4, 2019: Main entrance reopens, south vestibule entrance will remain closed until landscaping is complete in early July.

May 30, 2019: Final phase of concrete installation, including remaining portion of entry plaza and north sidewalk.

May 22, 2019: Main entrance shifts to south vestibule door. Concrete demolition and second phase of walkway closure scheduled to begin.

May 20, 2019: Second phase of concrete installation, including entry plaza, flagpole, and sidewalk to south vestibule entrance.

May 13, 2019: First phase of concrete installation, including parking lot islands and sidewalks.

May 6, 2019: Scheduled work is delayed due to continued rain, site conditions.

April 29, 2019: General site preparation. Scheduled work is delayed due to rain.

April 22, 2019: Concrete demolition and first phase of walkway closure scheduled to begin.

April 19, 2019: Removal of 6 small trees that have overgrown their locations, grown too close to the building, have become diseased, or simply died. Replacement canopy trees and shrubs will be installed later this summer.

April 18, 2019: Installation of construction site fencing and directional signage.

April 16, 2019: Tree and monument protection begins.

April 12, 2019: Village of Wilmette issues construction permit.

March 29, 2019: Project Kickoff Meeting with all contractors.

March 5, 2019: Board of Trustees awards bids for project subcontractors. The total budget for the project shall not exceed $875,000 ($650,000 for materials and labor, and $225,000 for design and administrative fees).

February 25, 2019: Library receives and opens bids from project subcontractors.

February 19, 2019: Board of Trustees scheduled a special meeting to approve bids for project subcontractors.

January 22, 2019: Board of Trustees approved the project design, materials, finishes, and plant material selections. Board approved posting the project for public bid. Board approved contract with Shales-McNutt Construction for construction management.

January 15, 2019: Library hosts Outdoor Renovation Project Community Open House.

December 18, 2018: Board of Trustees reviews Master Plan and 90% construction documents with project architect Jodi Mariano, Teska Associates. Board approves plan and schedules Open House for January. Board approves Shales-McNutt Construction for construction management as result of Request for Qualifications.

November 8, 2018: Board Facilities & Equipment Committee meets with Landscape Steering Committee, project architect, and community members to discuss project objectives and native plant materials.

October 11, 2018: Library posts Request for Qualifications for project Construction Management.

June 19, 2018: Board of Trustees approves contract from Teska Associates and Gewalt Hamilton Associates for Outdoor Renovation Project construction design and engineering services.

May 2, 2018: Board Facilities & Equipment Committee meets with Landscape Steering Committee to discuss and plan project.

March 20, 2018: Board of Trustees receives, reviews, and adopts Landscape Master Plan and design from project architect Jodi Mariano, Teska Associates. Board approves professional services agreements with Teska Associates and Gewalt Hamilton Associates.

March 7, 2018: Workshop to identify selections on preferred concept plan and priority projects, discussion of project budget, and selection of preferred near-term projects.

January 18, 2018: Coordination meeting with Village of Wilmette Community Development.

January 15, 2018: Landscape Committee meeting to review presentation of concept plans and discussion of project budget.

December 2017-January 2018: Public viewing of concepts and collection of community feedback in Library lobby.

December 11, 2017: Landscape Committee meeting to review presentation of two concept plans, alternatives, and imagery, and identify selections on preferred concepts.

October 23, 2017: Landscape Committee Kickoff Meeting to review project goals, identify site issues and opportunities, and participate in site walking tour.

Landscape Master Plan

The Landscape Master Plan is the culmination of the research, Landscape Committee meetings, public inputs, Village coordination, and site visits that occurred throughout the planning process, beginning in Fall 2017.

The Landscape Committee developed the following list of strategies:

• Reflect the Library’s vibrant identity and programs;
• Support a variety of spaces for individual contemplation and large groups;
• Promote durability and sustainability;
• Welcome the community to an inclusive and visually compelling environment.

The following elements are key design features of the overall scope of the Landscape Master Plan:


The front entry is enhanced by a concrete walkway and a snowmelt system. The new entry walkway is flanked by new benches and bluestone paving. The existing flagpole will remain in its current location and be enhanced with new landscaping. The ‘Reading Statue’ is relocated to the front door, welcoming visitors as they arrive.


The central open lawn supports events and performances. Varieties of seating surround the lawn, including traditional benches, movable tables & chairs, a custom reading bench, and playful seating pebbles. The furnishings are enhanced with bluestone pavers. The curved masonry planter wall provides a buffer from the intersection of Wilmette Ave & Park Ave. The masonry wall includes Wilmette Public Library signage, announcing to visitors that they have arrived. Plantings in front of the wall and along the Park Ave sidewalk soften the view from the street. Bluestone walkways from both the Park Avenue sidewalk and the Wilmette Avenue sidewalk provide accessible routes into the lawn area from the community.

* It should be noted that a geothermal system is located below the open lawn. As such, the Landscape Master Plan is designed to limit the amount of foundation and structural work and to work within the natural landscape and grading patterns.


The garden walk expands and reorganizes the native butterfly garden to include interpretive signage and an ADA accessible path throughout. A bluestone paved area with seating pebbles is located at the corner. The path allows for access to the existing raised planter. The garden walk terminates at the west building access door. Plantings and trees extend between garden path and alleyway.


Parking lot improvements do not disturb the permeable paving system. Landscaped parking islands are considered to be replaced with concrete paving to improve maintenance. Additional trees and shrubs are planned along the north edge of the parking lot.


The existing hawthorn trees located in the alleyway are too large for the given space and have thorns. The trees are removed and replaced with native shrubs.