Massive Upgrades for Central Library

Both literal and figurative.

Photo credit: Kansas Sebastian via Flickr.

Photo credit: Kansas Sebastian via Flickr.

In addition to having a scheduled fresh pedestrian-friendly redesign right outside its doors, the Parkway Central Library at 1901 Vine will also be getting a facelift to its interior. Lest you forgot, the William Penn Foundation committed to donating a $25 million grant to the Free Library of Philadelphia back in September (the largest donation to FLP ever).

Most of this sum is reserved for five select library branches, while a remaining $7 million will go to refurbishing the inside of Central.  According to Philadelphia Weekly’s Josh Kruger, FLP president Siobhan Reardon says the changes to Central involve removing the six-level stacks at the back of the library (already done) and, get this: creating a common space akin to the flourishing coworking spaces in other parts of the city:

Now we’re going to have two big, big rooms behind the grand stair. The first will be a common—much like a college campus, where everybody comes in and you can pull your chairs up and work together or you can be separate. I think of the co-working spaces [that have become popular in the city]—Benjamin’s Desk, Independents Hall—they’re just amazing, amazing spaces, so socially engaging and physically engaging on so many levels…. And that’s what I want to put there: vibrant, somewhat noisy. I think that’s one of the changing aspects of a public library now, is that you’re going to have your quiet spaces, but you’re going to have your big, noisy spaces too. I do think you’ve got to create an energy here, because the buildings are so monolithic and so impersonal.

Read the rest of Kruger’s in-depth interview with Reardon about the literal and figurative evolution of Philadelphia’s libraries here. (We recommend it!)

As for anyone wondering what ever happened to the proposed Central expansion that would include a brand new entrance, that project has been on hold since April. Moshe Safdie, the architect who had been slated to design the addition, has been keeping busy with other projects and narrowly beating out Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates for the 2015 AIA Gold Medal award.

Why Philly’s Free Library of tomorrow will look more like a coworking hub [PW]

Previously: Free Library To Get $25 Million Grant For Branch Renovations [Property]