The Boston Public Library has completed the second and final phase of renovations to the 1972 Philip Johnson building. The second phase renovations, which was completed by the Cambridge firm of William Rawn and Associates, includes updates to the interior design and exterior landscaping, new and very cool digital elements, stunning and invigorating new spaces for studying and reading, updated collections, and an enormous Tech Central with many new public computers.
In typical William Rawn fashion, the Johnson Building is colorful, brighter and welcoming in contrast to the dark and overwhelmingly depressing (but functional for its time), granite building completed in 1972. Rawn, who has designed several libraries in the Boston area—including the East Boston and Mattapan branches of the Boston Public Library—has also visually opened the Johnson building to the street, inviting the people of Boston into their library.
I’ve been a user of the Central Library since I was eight years old and Philip Johnson has never looked and felt this good. While this addition to the McKim, Mead & White Beaux Arts building isn’t one of Philip Jonhson’s best works, it’s an important building in Boston nonetheless.
The Welcome Center features new books, plenty of seating and digital screens listing information about programs and events at the library. The screens also serve as an opportunity for people to browse the Boston Public Library’s digital collections.
The Boston Public Library has stepped into the 21st century with this renovation. A new 6,000 square feet Digital Services department and digital imaging studio has been created in the lower level of the building, directly across the Kirstein Business Library and Innovation Center. This new space will also be used by the BPL’s digital partners, Digital Public Library of America and Internet Archive. Welcome to the Boston Public Library, the library of the future.
The Kirstein Business Library and Innovation Center will offer many courses including video editing, production and audio.
An updated theater, new classroom and community gathering spaces are also found in the lower level.
Check out the very cool balloons that serve as collection markers.
Many objects from the BPL’s extensive art collection are currently on display throughout the renovated building (and many more will be on view in the Fall in the new, museum-quality exhibition space).
And colors to complement every single one of my many sneakers.
What do you think of the newly renovated Johnson Building?