DATE: November 23, 2009
In Cambridge, Style Meets Functionality
Over one thousand residents, local and state officials celebrated the opening of the new Cambridge Public Library on October 29, 2009. The new library, which took fifteen years to complete, has been called one of the best recent pieces of architecture in the Boston area. The project renovated the existing Van Brunt and Howe 1888 building and added over 76,000 square feet in new space with a state-of-art glass library building, the first of its kind in the United States.
The glass addition makes the library feel open and welcoming to the community. Patrons standing outside the building can see all the way through the building to the books and new computer stations. From the inside, the glass addition affords views of the park and provides perfect areas for patrons to enjoy reading in comfortable chairs.
Cambridge's diverse community was considered in every step of planning for the new library. Children and families will enjoy the large sunny open children's room which occupies almost an entire floor of the new addition and includes both a cozy story hour room and a children's programming room that holds 100. Overall, there are 78 public access computers, with a capacity for expansion. A loft-like space was created for teens and young adults in the renovated original library, which also houses a café. A large auditorium that holds 230 people and a smaller Community Room are also part of the project. In addition, seven conference rooms provide meeting space for smaller groups. During the library's three hour "soft" public opening on November 8, 1750 people attended and 5000 items were checked out.
Construction on this LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-eligible "green" building began in 2007 was completed during the summer of 2009. Through the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP), The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) awarded Cambridge two grants totaling more than $10 million for the project, which cost $91 million overall. The total cost of the project included several municipal projects such as a 70-car below-grade parking facility, landscaping and renovation of an adjacent community park, a toddler playground, and a massive storm water retention tank located underground between the new addition and Broadway.
Since 1990 the MPLCP has assisted 239 cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth with the construction of new libraries, additions and/or renovations to historic libraries as well as preliminary planning activities essential to a building project. In 2008 the MBLC created the Library Construction Green Incentive to encourage libraries in the MPLCP to design and build libraries that meet LEED certification standards.
Ongoing funding to support the MPLCP and the Library Construction Green Incentive has been made available through the $3 billion General Governmental Needs Bond Bill authorized by the Legislature and signed by Governor Deval Patrick on August 11, 2008.
For more information about MPLCP, please visit:
For more information about the Library Construction Green Incentive please visit:
The Board of Library Commissioners (mass.gov/mblc) is the agency of state government with the statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Board advises municipalities and library trustees on the operation and maintenance of public libraries, including construction and renovation. It administers state and federal grant programs for libraries and promotes cooperation among all types of libraries through regional library systems and automated resource sharing. It also works to ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of their geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability or cultural background, have access to essential new electronic information technologies and significant electronic databases.