The historic 1909 public library and a large neighboring community center form a civic campus around a central lawn in the heart of Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood. Previously overwhelmed by the scale of the community center, the library addition features a new entrance and reading room that establish a prominent façade oriented to the neighborhood’s primary thoroughfare. The addition establishes the library’s civic presence and ties into the scale of the community center’s entrance portico, together framing the central lawn as the focal point of the civic campus.
The addition provides much-needed breathing room to the BPL’s largest branch collection and serves as a community living room furnished with distinct seating areas offering a spectrum of views to the surrounding cityscape. Prior to the renovation, the library was entered directly through the children's room, posing a security and programming challenge. The renovation distributes the program into four distinct zones arranged as an enfilade: entrance with new books, addition with periodicals and a work bar; adult fiction and non-fiction; computer stations and "tween" collection; children's room, and a teen lounge overlooking the library from the formerly staff-only mezzanine.
Interior finishes respond to the community’s request for a vibrant public space that reflects the neighborhood’s vitality. Bright colors and fabrics highlight the original rich woodwork and modern lighting unifies new and old spaces. The south-facing reader’s terrace, shaded beneath the building’s deep roof overhangs, re-incorporates the historic entry door into the daily life of the library.
The redesigned signage program includes monumental exterior signage as part of the solar glare-reducing glass frit pattern, interior wayfinding graphics, and a custom wall-covering in the children’s room, designed as an interlocking pattern of children’s book characters by local authors. The characters all appear as silhouettes rendered in yellow to echo the original children’s room paint.