littlek
 
Reply Wed 30 Sep, 2009 04:42 pm
One of the things I loved most about the block I live on is that I was so close to a large public library. This library was old, brownstone, and gothic. It was a community center. Then they closed it down to renovate it. 5 years they said. It's been more, but that' what always happens. Then there was a protest about all the beautiful, old trees slated to be cut down. Most neighbors were concerned about the big or showy ones - the willow, the beeches, the larch and the cherries. While I'd miss those were they gone, I was worried about the old stand of witch hazel - they were obliterated early. No more late winter perk around the corner. I figured the old American Elm the town had been babying for decades were safe, they weren't. And finally, the construction meant street closures, construction noise, no more dog park, no more sunbathing...... Not many townsfolk were happy about the whole deal.

Well.

I love the place now and I haven't even stepped foot inside of it yet. They kept the original building (but knocked down the less-old additions to the old building). They connected the old building with a glass walkway to the new building. They sunk the parking into a cavernous garage (which will hopefully help with the daily parking crunch). The grounds are now more park-like than they were with the surface parking getting in the way. The trees (minus the witch hazel and elms) seem happy and native plants (mostly viburnum) filled in the empty places.

But.

The best part of all is the library itself. I can't wait to get inside. It is LEED certified. It's our second or third city-built green building. The whole south side is a double walled expanse of glass. The three feet between glass panels have vents to move warm air around the four floors and louvers to block out the sun to keep the place cooler. Lights are sub-light sensitive and turn off if enough sunlight is coming into various areas. The wood work is largely bamboo, an easily renewable wood, and the products used to outfit the place are low in volatile organic compounds. They even included low-water toilets. The cherry on top is the light wood book shelves and orange plashes of paint on the walls.

Here's a link to its greenability http://www.cambridgema.gov/CPL/NewLibraryGoGreen.pdf
 
littlek
 
  4  
Reply Wed 30 Sep, 2009 04:58 pm
Here's the new library from the edge of one park entrance
http://photos-h.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs270.snc1/9731_172778649971_743754971_3832239_386889_n.jpg

Here's the original library
http://photos-g.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs270.snc1/9731_172778679971_743754971_3832246_2608360_n.jpg

Here's where they connect (with one of the old beeches in the shot)
http://photos-c.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs250.snc1/9731_172778659971_743754971_3832242_4401754_n.jpg

They built right into that tree and the parking lot is below it
http://photos-b.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs250.snc1/9731_172778654971_743754971_3832241_3842097_n.jpg

The double glass frontage
http://photos-f.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs250.snc1/9731_172778634971_743754971_3832237_6569877_n.jpg
0 Replies
 
George
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Sep, 2009 05:11 pm
I pass that on the way to Hermione's apartment.
Looks like an H.H. Richardson building (the old part).
I love it.
0 Replies
 
Reyn
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Sep, 2009 05:23 pm
@littlek,
Wow, what a change! It looks like a nice building.

I like your shots, by the way, especially the last one!
0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  2  
Reply Wed 30 Sep, 2009 05:23 pm
That's some fancy library. At least people are not in such a hurry to knock down old buildings like they were a few decades ago. My library is a 1800 sq foot house that pre-dates the Revolutionary War and they are always taking about adding an appropriate modern edition. You can even see where they had to run wires over the stone and plaster walls to add a few computers. They just got around to upgrading the windows a few years ago. They used to put that plastic sheeting on them in the winter. The tax payers around my part of the world are very conservative and too cheap to vote for something that might benefit something as "frivolous" as a library. It is surrounded by some awesome trees, so I guess at least those are safe.

Too bad about all that grass, but I guess you can't have everything. I assume viburnum leaf beetle hasn't hit Cambridge yet. Sadly, it is probably only a matter of time. It's difficult to save large trees around construction sites. Even if they are not in the way of the building they tend to die from the weight of trucks driving over and compacting their roots. In time the new plantings will take over and give the next generation something to get nostalgic about. Enjoy your new hangout.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Sep, 2009 05:38 pm
And this is a recession they say.
0 Replies
 
Joe Nation
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Sep, 2009 05:39 pm
So, when do you get to go inside?
(Gorgeous pics, BTW. They tell the story.)
Is there a reading room where you can browse through some huge reference tomes for hours or are there stacks where you can make your own carrol and hide away?

Oh gosh, this makes me miss the BPL of 1966.

Joe(we handed in our cards and waited at the tables for the guides to bring out our selections.)Nation
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Sep, 2009 06:19 pm
I'm envious..
When I was visiting the Chicago area with a2kers in 2006, a childhood friend took me to the new library that replaced the old Evanston library, as part of our tour. I don't mind a lot of new architecture and love some of it (your new library looks wonderful, K) and there were no doubt good reasons for tearing the old one down, but... agggh.

That same day, she took me into our old childhood church, St. Nick's. This is an advance in my older years, that I don't tear my hair or rend my garments when going into catholic churches anymore after some middle years of rage - but this visit was also a visual and sentimental whappo. The old arrangement of altar, pews, aisles.. was subject to modern views on church design, thus there was this big circle around another placement of the altar. I don't mind that if it's a contemporary building, but, again, agggh.

Well, at least the neighborhood houses stayed just about the same.

I have my traditional attachments..
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Sep, 2009 08:24 pm
George, can't quite remember who Hermione is (son's gf?).

Reyn - thanks!

Greenwitch - I haven't even heard about viburnum killers. We rely heavily on them (viburnums, not viburnum killers) up here. I hope it ain't true.

Joe - I CAN'T WAIT! I checked the site and they have no open date on the docks. I will probably find out sooner than they post it, though, if I chat with neighbors. Every time I drive by I check to see if the chain link is still in front of the entrance (were still there as of today). I am getting in there as soon as I can. A neighbor moved to Vietnam for work and I told him I'd email some shots to him.

I have missed the place so much!

Spendi - construction was underway before the recession hit. But, home owners are feeling the pinch now.

Osso, I knew you'd come and comment! Things change, but sometimes it's not all bad.
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Sep, 2009 08:27 pm
I'm still scratching my head about the new trees they've planted - horse chesnut? Really?
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Sep, 2009 08:47 pm
@littlek,
The landscape architect was Michael Van Valkenburg (and Associates). You could always email them for a list, if it's not already posted somewhere.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Sep, 2009 08:57 pm
@Green Witch,
Oh, van Valkenburg - I bet you can get the plant materials lists, if you ask nicely, or at least talk with someone on staff.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Sep, 2009 09:22 pm
@ossobuco,
Adds - or the library might know, or even have a garden plan shown.
0 Replies
 
MontereyJack
 
  2  
Reply Wed 30 Sep, 2009 10:30 pm
Keep us informed, kris. I'm slowly going crazy from science fiction withdrawal. the main library had a science fiction librarian for years until he retired about five years ago--how cool is that? But of course it's Cambridge, so they'd have to have one. The interim main library kept up with new books, but the interim interim library, when they closed the old interim one down some months ago to transfer everything back to the main, hasn 't gotten a new SF book in probably five years. AARRGH. The oiriginal plan was to open the new one in September, but they had to drop behind that and aren't issuing another date. AAAAARRRRGGGHHHH!

When they were planning the thing and inviting public comment, I suggested they should get some of those big squashy brown leather club chairslike they have in Barnes and Noble where you can sit and read for hours, and lots of little nooks to retreat into,like the Arts and Crafts-period library I grew up with in Michigan. They said that they didn't want to make things TOO comfortable, since there was a significant problem with homeless people, some rather, um, odorous, coming in and taking over the facilities in the old main library, so it mayt be more functional than warm and snuggly. Sigh.
0 Replies
 
MontereyJack
 
  2  
Reply Wed 30 Sep, 2009 10:49 pm
George, the old part isn't a Richardson one, but it is in a really close version of his style. If you're a library head, or a Richardson head, there are several actual original HHRichardson libraries amongst the Boston suburbs--that seems to have been the first grand library-building period. A couple of them still have most of the original features and they're quietly spectacular, multi-story high vaulted ceilings, open galleries with rows of books in antique wooden bookcases running down their middles, huge meeting or reading rooms which kind of make you think of them as cathedrals of books. About a dozen years ago I did a sort of tour of most of them,over a couple of weekends, and I remember walking in and my jaw dropped. Unfortunately I don't remember which ones they are, but it shouldn't be too hard to find out.

Oh, and one of my favorite memories of the old Cambridge main library is of the local history room. Must have been about 25 years ago, I was in grad school doing archaeology and I discovered the library had a whole collection of books for a couple centuries now of town histories and genealogies and such for Massachusettsw, includinjg books and descriptions of local burying ground, which I could use for the research. As I remember, the room was three or four floors up, above an open staircase running along the wall. It was an actual garret room, the ceiling coming down in gables, bookshelves lining the walls about five or six feet high, windows in the gables looking out on the canopies of century old trees (probably the ones kris says have been cut down, now that I think about it0. Old library tables and I think i remember Windsor chairs (how New England) around them to work in. Now THAT'S a library. I don't think anyone else used the room in the week or so I was working there--you kind of felt this was a secret known but to a select few, and them all old and fusty (probably much like I am now, come to think of it). Boy, I hope tghat's still there in the old part of the new one.
saab
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 12:50 am
A wonderful library.

My hometown got a new library a couple of years ago. The city has a population of 90.000 and last year there were one million visitor. Not only because of books but the architecture.
Also it has a very nice cafe/restaurant which is even allowed to serve wine.
I have not figured out how to put in pictures so you have to open the link.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2037/2049929035_07b70515d6.jpg
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a8/Halmstad_bibliotek-3.JPG
0 Replies
 
George
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 06:25 am
@littlek,
K wrote:
George, can't quite remember who Hermione is (son's gf?).

Just the name I use for my daughter, the eternal student.
She lives near Harvard Square.
0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 06:28 am
@ossobuco,
The have pictures, but no plant list:

http://www.mvvainc.com/index.php#/PROJECTS/15/86/
0 Replies
 
George
 
  2  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 06:33 am
@MontereyJack,
MontereyJack wrote:
George, the old part isn't a Richardson one, but it is in a really close version of
his style. If you're a library head, or a Richardson head, there are several actual
original HHRichardson libraries amongst the Boston suburbs--that seems to
have been the first grand library-building period. A couple of them still have
most of the original features and they're quietly spectacular, multi-story high
vaulted ceilings, open galleries with rows of books in antique wooden bookcases
running down their middles, huge meeting or reading rooms which kind of make
you think of them as cathedrals of books. About a dozen years ago I did a sort of
tour of most of them,over a couple of weekends, and I remember walking in and
my jaw dropped. Unfortunately I don't remember which ones they are, but it
shouldn't be too hard to find out.

As a matter of fact, there's a magnificent one in Woburn, the next town over from Stoneham.
http://cache.boston.com/resize/bonzai-fba/Globe_Photo/2009/01/22/1232678681_6819/539w.jpg
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 06:37 am
@George,
A great building surrounded by a botanical desert. It's just begging for a community garden.
 

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