The average age of users in the newly renovated second floor of Boston Public Library’s (BPL) Johnson Building has come down at least a decade, and it’s easy to see why. Philip Johnson’s massive addition to BPL’s iconic Beaux-Arts style McKim Building opened in 1972. According to the BPL website, the requests for the exterior were that the building should “observe the existing roof line of the McKim Building, and to use material (Milford granite) that would harmonize with the exterior of the existing Central Library building.” The result was a Brutalist monolith, experimental in structure and stark in aesthetic.
The controversial sale of Brooklyn Public Library’s (BPL) Brooklyn Heights branch to a New York real estate development group remains up in the air. The latest speed bump in the library’s sale, which was proposed by BPL, is a report suggesting the library system is getting a raw deal on the real estate, which is situated in one of the borough’s poshest neighborhoods.
Three years ago, internationally acclaimed urban installation artist Theaster Gates decided that a decayed, hulking, once iconic three-story South Side Chicago building deserved to be brought back to life. His vision, with encouragement and advice from friends, resulted in the Stony Island Arts Bank—a hybrid gallery, research library, media archive, and community center dedicated to African American culture and history—which opened to the public in early October.
When the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) completed its recent 14-year Branch Library Improvement Program (BLIP), the city Controller’s Office released an impact study detailing the economic benefits and returns on investment that the program stimulated throughout the city. The 68-page report, “Reinvesting and Renewing for the 21st Century: A Community and Economic Benefits Study of San Francisco’s Branch Library Improvement Program,” revealed that for every dollar invested in BLIP, San Francisco realized a return of between $5.19 and $9.11.
The 123 triumphant academic and public library construction projects that we’re highlighting are large and small, dear and frugal, cautiously attentive to historic character and wildly beyond what some consider “typical” library design. Yet all feature what is at the core of today’s library, the cohesion between service and the community.Among these facilities, completed between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015, are eight buildings judged to be the best examples of replicable public library models, Library Journal’s New Landmark Libraries and Honorable Mentions. They are noted on the tables that follow and received a lot of ink in our fall Library by Design supplement, mailed with the September 15 issue. Check them out.