City of Cambridge
Cambridge Public Library



Cambridge Public Library


City of Cambridge


Cambridge, MA




140,000 GSF


LEED Silver Certified


Renovations + Additions, Civic Realm

Partner Firm

Ann Beha Architects

The new envisioning of the Cambridge Public Library includes a New Building standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the renovated 1889 Historic Main Library and a newly landscaped City Park, delivered on time and on budget.

Significant renovations have renewed the Main Library’s importance to the community. The New Building addition has become a “Civic Heart” for Cambridge that is welcoming, inviting and accessible to all citizens. Decidedly democratic and populist, the Library celebrates Cambridge as a highly diverse community (over 50 languages are spoken in its public schools) and serves an average of 2,000 visitors daily.

The architects have managed to provide spaces, within both the new and old structures, with a variety of distinct characters that appeal to a broad spectrum of users. At the same time, they’ve found a way to greatly expand a historically significant building without compromising its relevance.

Joann Gonchar, Architectural Record, "Legible and Luminous"


The New Public Library includes a large-scale double-skin curtain wall as the building’s front facade (180’ long x 45’ high). The double-skin facade achieves a remarkable transparency (in spite of its southwest orientation), positioning the library as a new type of civic building: democratic and populist library celebrating Cambridge as a highly diverse community and creating spaces that are welcoming, inviting, and accessible – not imposing or elitist.

Expanding on the idea of “Library in the Park” of the historic Van Brunt & Howe building, the new building brings the park into the library through its continuous transparent front facade. By placing the 70-car parking garage below grade, the size of the park was maximized.

Awards + Recognition

2015 National AIA Architecture Honor Award

2010 BSA Harleston Parker Medal

2012 Congress for New Urbanism Charter Award for Block, Street, and Building

2012 USGBC Innovation in Green Design Award for Product and Technology

2011 AGC of Massachusetts Build New England Honor Award

2011 BSA Building Enclosure Design Award

2011 BSA Sustainable Design Honor Award

2011 IES of Boston Illumination Award

2011 Metal Architecture Magazine Sustainable Design Award

2011 Urban Land Institute Award of Excellence Finalist

2011 International Design Awards Finalist

2010 AIA New England Design Excellence Honor Award

2010 AIA New Hampshire Excellence in Sustainability, Integrated Design/Integrated Development Award

2010 American Libraries Magazine Library Design Showcase

2010 ARCHITECT Magazine Annual Design Review Bond Award

2010 AGC of America & Aon Construction Build America Award

2010 Boston Herald, “One of the 10 Best Boston-Area Buildings of the Decade”

2010 BSA Design Excellence Honor Award

2010 BSA Interior Architecture/Interior Design Award

2010 Cambridge Historical Commission Preservation Award Special Recognition

2010 Massachusetts Historical Commission Preservation Award

2010 Sustainable Building Industry Council Citation for Innovative Envelope System Beyond Green High-Performance Building

The Boston Globe, “What a posh hotel and a new library share”

Project Consultants

Structural Engineer | LeMessurier Consultants, Inc.

Mechanical / Electrical Engineer | TMP Engineering

Civil Engineer | Guntlow + Associates

Landscape Architect | Caril R. Johnson Associates

Interior Designer | WRA, Ann Beha, + Lab [3.2] Architecture

Lighting Consultant | Douglas Baker

Acoustical Engineer | Kirkegaard Associates

Photographer | Robert Benson, Chuck Choi