The Honan-Allston branch library in Allston was conceived as a neighborhood civic structure with the warmth, detail, and texture of a community building. The landscape architect and architect worked closely with the community to integrate the new building with the fabric and scale of the neighborhood. Located in a dense, residential, and urban area, the library offers a rich gathering space for the community in its gardens and series of courtyard reading rooms. Preserving and incorporating a beautiful, century-old beech tree on site, RBA worked closely with the architect in planning the building to house the gardens.
The plan’s open-air interior allows the landscape to slide in between bar buildings, culminating in a courtyard that features the beech tree. Approaching the gardens along axis, the trees and linear plant beds create a layered landscape that unfolds as one walks through succeeding “scrims” of planting and building walls. A continuous bluestone path knits together inside and outside spaces by connecting the interior glass reading rooms with the exterior garden reading courtyards. The success of this project is best evidenced by its popularity in the community, making it one of the busiest of the Boston Public Branch Libraries.