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Located in Dorchester, the Adams Street Branch of the Boston Public Library is nestled into one of Boston’s great working-class neighborhoods. Located on busy Adams Street, the library is set at a focal point where the road bends, making its visual presence a marker for the neighborhood.

Restricted to one story, a single pitch monumentalizes the porous façade.

In the rear of the library, a breakdown of the roof into smaller peaks mimics the neighborhood’s residential scale. The folded roof is composed of a series of ruled surfaces, the result of a simple series of striated beams running east/west that draws rainwater towards the rain garden.

By extracting a wedge out of the southern portion of the site we draw in light into the two remaining wings and into the center of the building. In turn we create two gardens: one in the north framing an existing heritage oak tree, and one in the south planted with native plants.

The community-led design process created a schism between the configuration of the plan in relationship to the figuration of the building.

The separation of adults, teens, and children, for example, is the result of a myriad community focus group meetings to ensure the appropriate programming for each group. At the periphery of each age group’s space are reading areas tangent to the gardens, offering them privacy and a respite from the noise of the center.

The intricate planning of the interiors produced a north-south grain of shelving that helps to weave a grain that ensures light and views, while the planning of the structure is the result of optimizing the beam configurations overhead. The cross weave of these two grains produces the unique spatial circumstances of the interior of the building.

The southern exposure is characterized by extended eaves that offer shade during the summer months, but maximize natural sunlight in the winter months; using the concrete floors to serve as thermal mass for heating the space during the extended hours.

A community room at the north of the building takes advantage of the oak tree reading garden to gain flexible access both from the interior of the library as well as the exterior for special events.

Formal, monumental, and rendered in a glazed fluted white terracotta tile the Adams Street façade speaks to a history of New England small town pubic 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 an undulating pilaster surface to what is otherwise a thin rain-screen system.

Architect: NADAAA
Design Principals: Nader Tehrani; Katherine Faulkner, AIA
Principal in Charge: Arthur Chang, AIA
Project Managers: Amin Tadj, AIA; Michael Schanbacher, AIA
Project Architect: Amin Tadj, AIA
Project Team: Nathan Vice, RA; Lisa LaCharité; Gretchen Neeley, AIA; Ali Sherif; Tim Wong, AIA; Alex Diaz; Dustin Brugmann; Ronnie Kataki; Hannah Wang

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