The Last Free Space [M1]

What can public libraries do that other spaces –  schools, community centers, museums – cannot do? This studio will study and speculate on how a library, sited in Boston, could become a monument to the society we want to cultivate, to improve the communities in which we live, and to awaken the links that bind us inextricably to one another.

Libraries must contend with different timescales, acting as archives of public memory, engaging in the contemporary moment, and somehow anticipating unknown futures. How can a library honor the memory of its site and the community it serves, while acting as a platform, catalyst, and instigator of a hopeful and abundant future?

Modern libraries have evolved beyond depositories for books into “third spaces” for communities – offering an impressive wide range of services and resources (specific to the needs of the local residents). They are living spaces that evolve through use, marking the political, socio-economic and cultural shifts of a generation. Digitization and disinvestment have impacted how the role of libraries will be navigated in the future, but the public library remains indispensable. Providing free access and democratic space to anyone, libraries offer one of the last free spaces in the city.

Students will challenge the notion of what a library is and what their project can do. They will consider the context in which they operate and develop proposals for how the building will perform in service. Additionally, they will interrogate the provenance of the materials and processes they select and through a lens of how these choices reinforce the purpose of the project. Multiple forms of visualization will be leveraged as students develop a robust and persuasive narrative that communicates their intent and the rationale of their decisions. Each week students will advance their project narrative and concept design through pin-ups and desk-crits.