Strategic Planning

The BPL Compass

Johnson Building Improvement Project Moves forward with Formal Design

by David Leonard

July 2013 – Approval to Proceed with Design: As a result of FY14 City of Boston Capital Budget approval, the Boston Public Library is excited to see its Johnson Building Improvement project move from conceptual planning into the next stage of formal design to be followed by construction activities for phase 1 work. This next stretch of work will see formal design commence immediately and once complete, construction of the phase 1 scope will begin later in 2013. Formal design activities for later phases will also commence in July 2013, but are not planned to go forward into construction until phase 1 is mostly complete, the necessary Boston Landmarks Commission approvals are obtained and the total project budget is approved, hopefully as part of the FY15 multi-year capital budget request.

Phase 1 Green Light: Phase 1 involves renovating the second floor of the Johnson Building, which will encompass a new children’s area and teen zone, as well as a refurbished area for collections and reference. This phase will also begin to address long-delayed mechanical, electrical, and other building infrastructure improvements on this floor.

Where we started: The initial focus began with the following areas: the need for a larger newly renovated children’s room, a new teen area, an improved lobby and entry way, a new books area that would have a “living room” feel, a possible conference center space and potential commercial or enterprise use of underutilized space.

A preview of Future Phases: While the remaining areas listed above span the concourse, first, and mezzanine levels and the exterior, to achieve the other goals of the overall project, a full renovation of space on the first floor and its services is now being considered, including a relocated circulation services area, a relocated tech central and training lab as well as improved access to first floor collections – movies and music, new books, and the holds pickup areas in particular. Also being considered is a new learning center space with the world languages collection. Other items under consideration for later phases include the loading dock, relocated staff break room as well as the connector corridor between the Johnson and McKim buildings and its current complicated manner for addressing  accessibility standards and best practices. The exact scope and number of later phases remains under consideration.

Schedule: Preparations are now underway which will likely involve closing the second floor of the Johnson Building to the public in October 2013, with phase 1 construction beginning in December. Plans to relocate affected services and ensure collection access during construction are currently being developed.


David Leonard

Director of Administration & Technology

David’s portfolio includes Capital Projects and is the overall lead BPL administrator for the Johnson Building Improvement Project

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