Even visionary Richardson could not have foreseen contemporary demands on the Woburn Public Library. The 50,000-volume library requires room for another 30,000 books. Plus, its children’s library occupies a basement-level space “that’s pretty horrible,” says Jessica Lohnes, former deputy director of strategic planning at the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Lohnes has been acting as a pro bono consultant to the library’s board of trustees since early 2008, and conceived the ideas competition.
The board started discussing an expansion five years ago but had reached a stalemate on how to proceed, partly because of Richardson’s design. “The building is designed all the way around,” Lohnes says, “so there is no real logical place to add onto it.” Lohnes adds that, ideally, the expansion would stress the library lawn as an open space that Woburn could use as its town common, since the original common “found its way into the middle of a traffic circle.”
Information about the competition is scheduled to debut today.. Entry details will be released on January 2, with submissions due January 23.
A jury including Lohnes, Sherida Paulsen, FAIA, Preston Scott Cohen, AIA, Praxis co-editor Amanda Lawrence, urban designer Gretchen Von Grossman, and Richardson historian Jim O’Gorman will award small cash prizes to the top three entries. While the winning concept won’t be built, per se, Lohnes expects it to inform the RFP for the library’s expansion, which should be released no later than summer 2009.