Boston Public Library Johnson Building Renovation

LOCATION: Boston, Massachusetts
SIZE: 156,000 sq. ft.
OWNERS: City of Boston
ARCHITECT: William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc.
PHOTOGRAPHER: © Robert Benson

DESIGN TEAM:Paul Zaferiou
 Matt Latchford
 Alicia Miksic

The renovations to the Johnson Addition of the Boston Public Library breathe life back into this 1970s-era building.  Largely untouched since the building’s construction, the original lighting was harsh and monochromatic.  The architect was tasked with modernizing the interior to meet the needs of today’s patrons and build in flexibility for future reconfigurations.  The new design is inviting and youthful, with bold colors, a mixture of furniture styles and stack layouts, and much more open space.  Following the contemporary and playful theme of the new design, the pendant lighting system runs asymmetrically to the building grid; this provides both visual interest and reliable illumination for a variety of new programs.  Each special area has its own lighting flavor:  whimsical for the children’s room, and tech/industrial for the teens’ section.  The new study tables bordering the central atrium have modern table-mounted task lights with green fabric shades, recalling the classic green-glass reading lights in the adjoining original McKim, Mead and White building.