Project name: Boston Public Library, Johnson Building Transformation
Project location: Boston
Firm name: William Rawn Associates, Architects
Jury comments: This rehabilitation of a 1972 historic landmark addition to the first large free municipal library in the United States lays waste to the idea that renovation and reuse projects are not on equal footing with new construction. Granite plinths are removed to create space that is crisp, light, and open. The design appears effortless, though it is really the thoughtful distillation of many moves. A new glass facade allows the loveliest aspects of the library to radiate out onto the street, which is the site of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
The client and the architect elected to respond to the building’s proximity to terrorism by transforming a Brutalist bunker into a more visible, welcoming, vulnerable, and accessible public facility with a new “great hall” that is already briskly activated by a diverse population of visitors who all seem equally at home. This may be Boston’s most effective public building. It is transcendent.
Client: Boston Public Library
Consultants: Arrowstreet; Cavanaugh/Tocci Associates; Consigli Construction; Cosentini Associates; Darlow Christ Architects; Green Engineer; LAB [3.2] Architecture; LAM Partners; LeMessurier Consultants; Nitsch Engineering; PMA Construction Services; Reed Hilderbrand; R.W. Sullivan; Small Design Firm