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West Branch LibrarySomerville, Massachusetts

Constructed in 1909, the West Branch Library consists of 10,500 SF across three levels. designLAB developed an approach for restoring the library’s original character, while providing new 21st Century programming.

The project consisted of a gut renovation of the interior spaces, plus a contemporary new addition that complements the historic structure. Clad in copper and largely transparent, the addition welcomes the community with a new, universally accessible entrance, lobby, restrooms, and informal reading room.

The historic reading rooms and entry hall on the main level have been largely preserved, as was the entirety of the main stair. Restoration work concentrated around the original hand-stenciled paint details, ornamental plasterwork, and period-appropriate lighting and wood millwork.

The upper level of the library houses a vibrant new Children’s area, organized with dedicated areas for crafts, story time, and group events. A multi-purpose community room was inserted into the lower level, serving as a making and teen space, in addition to hosting community events. The community room is accessible after-hours for events that occur when the library is closed.