What’s red and orange all over? It’s the new Boston Public Library, of course! After many public meetings and countless moments of frustrations for many of its regular users (I admit it, I was at times pretty frustrated), the City of Boston finally opened to the public the renovated second floor of the 1972 Phillip Johnson Addition to the main branch of the Library. The $75.5 million renovation project campaign was commissioned to William Rawn Associates of Boston and aims at revitalizing program spaces and improving user services. Among its other goals are connecting the library to the city, creating an inviting first impression and strengthening its ties to the beloved McKim building.
Having attended several public forums on the future of the library and having been a user of the Johnson Building since I was a second grader at the nearby Hurley Elementary School in the South End, these renovations are exactly what the library has needed for years. Rawn’s design of the second floor is playful and inviting. It defies age old stereotypes of what libraries should or shouldn’t be. The second floor features a new children’s library, teen area with very comfortable couches, amazing vintage typewriters on display, a computer lab and even a 3D printer. The nonfiction collection is also on this floor as are reference services and a community reading area. From my first visit this past Sunday, the interior is welcoming and left me with a deep appreciation of what good interior design can do to a public building, in particular to once somewhat neglected buildings from the 1970s such as this one.
While the second phase of the renovations will be unveiled by Summer 2016, I think it’s safe to say that the Boston Public Library has already reconnected itself to the city. Maybe it’s because I happen to love orange and red so much that I am really excited by what the firm of William Rawn has done with this iconic building in Boston. Or maybe it’s because this renovation has already proven that when you give love to unloved buildings, great things can happen (yes, I’m talking about you Boston City Hall, you need love too). But really, what’s not to love about an interior covered in orange, red, lime green and purple walls and carpets? Check out some images below and visit the library for yourself, I think you just might fall in love all over again with the Boston Public Library.