Boston, MA


Adams Street Branch Library

The Adams Branch is nestled into one of Boston’s great working-class neighborhoods and is set at a focal point where Adams Street bends, making its presence a marker for the neighborhood. The library mandate is to make porous connections to the street and ensure accessibility to all. A single pitch monumentalizes the façade on Adams Street, while a breakdown of peaked roofs creates a diminutive scale for the back alley. The folded roof is composed of a series of surfaces that draw rainwater towards the eastern alley, creating a watershed in a new pedestrian landscape. By extracting a wedge out of the southern portion of the site we draw in light and air into the center of the building. In turn we create two gardens: one in the south planted with a dense foliage of birch trees, and one in the north framing an existing heritage oak tree.

The subdivision of the mat building plan is brutally simple. With a circulation desk located in a panoptic center, the adults, teens, and children are given separate wings. A community room at the north of the building takes advantage of the oak tree reading garden to gain flexible access from the exterior for special events. At the periphery of each age group’s space we offer a reading area that is tangent to an outdoor garden.

Formal, monumental, and rendered in a glazed fluted white terracotta tile the façade speaks to a history of New England small town public buildings, whose civic presence is defined by Greek Revival traditions. The unrolling of the Doric column plays an abstract tribute to its antecedent while producing a thin, undulating rainscreen system. Another of the curiosities of New England inventions, the brick-ended structure is often adopted for public structures; it is a strategy that allows for materials to respond to their immediate contexts. Accordingly, we adopt terra cotta with multiple glazing strategies as notations on distinct faces of the building to create localized correspondences between materials and neighboring structures. 

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Status: Under Construction
Location: Boston, MA, US
Firm Role: Architect
Additional Credits: Construction Manager: J&J Contractors
Structure: Souza True and Partners
Civil: BSC
Landscape Architecture: Ground
Lighting Consultant: Sladen Feinstein
Envelope: GRLA
Acoustics and AV: Acentech
Code: Kevin Hastings