2011 Recipient | AIA/ALA Library Building Awards

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Mattapan Branch Library, Boston Public Library | Notes of Interest

Located in a 96% minority neighborhood with a significant immigrant population, this urban branch library follows the mayor’s initiative to bring important civic buildings to the city’s more diverse neighborhoods.

With significant amounts of glass looking onto Blue Hill Avenue (the neighborhood’s “Main Street”), this stone and brick building is decidedly open and inviting to the community. Extensive transparency at the street edge creates a sense of connection to the exterior, while the warm and lively stone is inviting to the street.

The building’s interior reflects this same sense of invitation in each of its major spaces, which address a range of library patrons: Main Reading Room, with its high ceiling and warm wood shelving and “sun grillage,” creates a welcoming space for adults to work quietly; the Children’s Room and Young Adults’ Room each provide colorful and active spaces flanking an outdoor courtyard; the 140-seat Community Room, wrapped in warm wood, allows the library to serve the community beyond library hours. A transparent interior courtyard allows daylight to fill the warm, wood-wrapped library spaces and creates a secure children’s gathering area.

The architects worked with community members of all ages during numerous intensive design sessions to ensure the project would reflect the special character and unique needs of this urban community. One of the major outcomes of these meetings was the development of the largest Young Adults’ space of all 26 city branch libraries, reflecting the importance of the teenage population to this community.

Embracing the city’s commitment to Green Building, the library focuses sustainable design strategies on Energy Performance, Water Conservation, Sustainable Site Design and Materials, and Indoor Air quality. Features include: Daylighting strategies for 95% of spaces; building-wide energy savings of 17%; energy-efficient lighting and zoning controls, low-flow fixtures reducing water use by 32%; a mechanical system exceeding code ventilation efficiencies by 30%; increased roofing Insulation; site storm water infiltration system; high-efficiency drip irrigation; bike storage and dedicated parking for Alternative Fuel Vehicles; ’Cool Roofing’ reducing Urban Heat Island Effect; construction waste recycling program; improved indoor air quality through using low-VOC materials.

Additional Credits

  • Civil Engineer: HW Moore Associates
  • General Contractor: WES Construction Corp.
  • Interior Architect: Lab [3.2]
  • Lighting Design: Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design
  • MEP Engineer: Cosentini Associates, Inc.
  • Structural Engineer: LeMessurier Consultants
  • Photo Credit: © Robert Benson Photography

Mattapan Branch Library, Boston Public Library

Jury Comments

It stands like a jewel- such strong street presence. The quality of light is advanced both from an environmental standpoint and through its presence in the space. The beautifully laid-out interiors are inviting, simple, and classy.

What more can a library do! We expect this project to have great impact on the community.

It brings a sense of dignity. This project shows that civic institutions can be dignified, and that it is not about resources but about will.

2011 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards Jury

  • Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, Chair
  • Marlon Blackwell Architect
  • Fayetteville, Ark.
  • Anders Dahlgren
  • Library Planning Associates, Inc.
  • Normal, Ill. 
  • Drew Harrington
  • University of Portland, Dean of the Library
  • Portland, Ore.
  • David Moore, AIA
  • Craig Gaulden and Davis, Inc.
  • Greenville, S.C.
  • Joanna Pestka, FAIA
  • NY Public Library
  • New York City
  • Thomas Schneiter
  • Library Consulting, High-Density Storage
  • Madison, Conn.

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