Strategic Planning

The BPL Compass

Up On the Roof… of the Boston Public Library

by Michael Colford

From the BPL RoofAs part of the Johnson Renovation project, I took a rare trip up to the roof of the McKim and Johnson Buildings that make up the Central Library in Copley Square. Part of the renovation includes examining the connection between the two buildings, to improve the sight lines and to address long needed accessibility issues.  Part of that construction would include the possible construction of a new public elevator, and a restructuring of staff access between the basement and roof of the buildings.  Last week we took a look at the elevator shafts and the elevator controls, including a look at the roof to see if there exists the possibility of extending existing elevators to higher floors.

While visiting the roof, I was able to enjoy a different perspective of Copley Square, one that we don’t get to enjoy that often.  I quickly snapped a few photo with my phone, of the streetscape, and the lovely griffins adorning the roof of the McKim Building.  I hope you enjoy this unique perspective, taken from the section of the Johnson Building that connects to the McKim Building.

View of Boylston St. from the BPL Roof

View of Boylston St. from the BPL Roof











Ornate Griffins keep guard of the McKim Room with the John Hancock Tower in the background.

Ornate Griffins keep guard of the McKim Room with the John Hancock Tower in the background














BPL Roof 4

The roof of the Johnson Building with a view of the Prudential Tower in the background

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One Response to “Up On the Roof… of the Boston Public Library”

  1. S. says:

    Love the pics! Nice visual reminder of how BPL is a central component of the Back Bay landscape/skyscape. And is that stone tile on the roof of the Johnson Building?
    I really like to concept of adding a public elevator; and restructuring access between the Johnson and McKim Building makes sense, for every floor of both buildings– perhaps in the future (5-10 years?) the library will be able to provide direct access between the 3rd floor galleries of the McKim building (rare book and art libraries) and the Johnson building, so that these collections are no longer hidden in a labyrinth of twisting corridors. It would also be nice to add a green-roof on the (concrete?) portions the Johnson Building’s roof– the flat-spaces, that constitute most of the roof’s “square” beyond the sloped tiling, and the glass-pyramid skylights. Because after all: if the Johnson building has a striking line-of-sight to the Hancock and Prudential Towers, it only follows that the “isometric profile” of the roof’s entire area must constitute a major landscape feature, from the perspective of both buildings– by which logic, it might make sense to invest in a minimal level of “greening” the Johnson’s roof– perhaps you could propose this as a joint project between the Library, the city, and the surrounding skyscrapers? Also it might be nice to adjust the glass of the Johnson building’s skylights, to improve lighting/insulation.