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The new Honan-Allston Branch Library is a single story 20,000 square foot building along a prominent neighborhood street. The building addresses issues that are important to the Boston Public Library, including maximum visual control within the library, a reading garden that serves as many spaces as possible, off-hours access for community use, and a prominent reading room on the front of the building.
The scheme divides the building into three parallel zones. The front zone contains all the active, information-gathering program components, including the stacks. The rear zone contains all of the meeting and program spaces, which have off-hours community use. The middle zone is very transparent, with alternating gardens and glass pavilion reading rooms. By creating several small garden spaces rather than a single large garden, each reading room is able to have a garden on both sides. This organization allows a beautiful specimen Beech tree to be preserved in one of the gardens.
The warm material palette is made up of slate shingles and panels, rough slate blocks, and wood cladding. Natural finished wood windows are used with a combination of fixed and operable units. The interior floors are a combination of wood and cork which shares the same warm tones of the exterior materials.
The Machado and Silvetti design team actively engaged the community in every aspect of the design process. Their participation in numerous meetings and community events helped to develop a design scheme that not only addressed the multitude of tasks and services provided by our public library today, but also transformed a site into an inviting and vibrant new civic structure . The end result is a fantastically well-received building now being overwhelmed with significant public use.
Bernard A. Margolis
The Boston Public Library