The new Honan-Allston Branch of the Boston Public Library is a single story, 20,000 square foot building located along a busy neighborhood street. The building addresses issues that are important to the client, 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 is divided into three basic programmatic zones defined by a series of parallel walls. 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 periodicals reading room is treated as an additive piece on the front of the building in order to establish a scale large enough to signify the institution’s importance, while materially it portrays a casualness appropriate to a community library in residential neighborhood.
This volume opens towards the street, with a continuous horizontal band of windows providing views from the outside to the internal activities of the library. Passing through the front entrance, patrons discover the inner gardens at the heart of the building.
The library’s warm material palette is composed of slate shingles and panels, rough slate blocks, and wood cladding.
Natural-finished wood windows are used with both fixed and operable units. The interior floors are a combination of wood and cork which shares the same warm tones of the exterior materials.