Cambridge, Massachusetts

Cambridge Public Library

The 1889 Cambridge Public Library building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the central branch of the City’s library system. Partnering with William Rawn Associates (WRA), we led an extensive community and regulatory review process that included nearly 100 public meetings. A new wing was designed by WRA. Our work included the rehabilitation of the historic building and interior design and furnishings for the entire complex.

With the demolition of a contemporary wing, the original façade of the historic building is restored with salvaged stone and new carvings and blocks of sandstone and granite. The historic entry is enclosed in glass to create an additional reading room. The existing stacks are transformed as a new Young Adults Library, with flexible furnishings that allow the space to be reconfigured for movies, poetry readings, and school dances. An Information Commons is created in the restored historic reading rooms with their WPA murals conserved.

City of Cambridge
Completed 2009, LEED Silver
Project Size
Rehabilitation | 27,000 GSF New Construction | 77,000 GSF
Public Library
American Institute of Architects Honor Award
Congress for New Urbanism Charter Award
USGBC MA Innovation in Green Design Award
Boston Society of Architects Sustainable Design Award
Harleston Parker Medal
Massachusetts Historical Commission Award
Cambridge Historical Commission Special Recognition
Boston Society of Architects Interior Architecture Award
“This new facility brings to life what a modern library can be, while still preserving and keeping us connected to its precious historic qualities. The main Library is the heart and soul of our library system, enabling the entire community at every age, to engage with the written, audio and visual media that can enhance their quality of life and enlarge their understanding of the world around them. This dynamic addition to our public infrastructure will provide untold benefits to our citizens for generations to come.”
— Richard Rossi, (then) Deputy City Manager and Project Director
Ann Beha Architects, now Annum Architects
Project Team
Pamela Hawkes FAIA, Wolfgang Rudorf AIA, Michele Auer AIA, Ric Panciera AIA, Scott Aquilina AIA, Andrew Grote, Nick Brown, Nicole Groleau (ABA/Annum); William Rawn Associates (Associate Architect); Consigli / JF White (Joint Contractors); LeMessurier (Structural); Vanderweil Engineers (MEP); Simpson Gumpertz & Heger (Consulting Engineer); HW Moore Associates, Inc. (Civil); Spec-Edit (Specifications); Atkins Hanscomb Faithful & Gould (Cost); Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design (Lighting); Acentech (Acoustics); Sullivan Code Group (Code / Zoning); Building Conservation Associates, Inc. (Historic Testing); Library Planning Associates, Inc. (Library Consultant); Kessler McGuinness & Associates, LLC (Accessibility); CCR Pyramid (IT); Walker Parking Consultants (Parking); Vanassee Hangen Brustlin (Traffic Engineer); Tim Mullvaney (CAD Consultant); Robert Benson (Photography)