Boston Athenaeum Announces Expansion Plans

The Boston Athenæum at 10½ Beacon St. has entered into a long-term lease that will allow it to expand by 19,400 square feet into the adjacent building at 14 Beacon St.

According to the library, the scope of the project includes restoring much-needed space for library members in the reading rooms at 10 ½ Beacon St. while enhancing acoustics and accessibility; adding shelves for the continually-growing library of more than half a million items in the circulating library; increasing and improving spaces for events, discussion groups, visitors and rentals; creating connected workspaces for cataloging, conserving, digitizing, curating and teaching with the special collections, comprising more than 100,000 rare books, manuscripts, artworks and other materials; and connecting floorplates in the two buildings to facilitate open circulation between patron and staff spaces in both 10½ Beacon and 14 Beacon.

“The board has long known of the need for additional space to care for our library’s valuable and ever-expanding holdings,” said John S. Reed, president of the​ Board of Trustees. “We looked at a range of options for responsible growth over time, including moving collections off-site—a prospect soundly rejected by our members. After months of careful deliberation, we are happy to have identified a practical, cost-effective solution right next door.

“Contiguous space has become available only a handful of times in the last century,” Reed said. “We appreciate the singular opportunity to enter into a long-term lease with Faros Properties. They appreciate the ​Athenæum’s mission of engaging people who seek knowledge, and stewarding our library full of treasures. They understand the importance of this historic ​library to the city of Boston.”

The two-year project is moving forward under the guidance of South Hamilton-based project manager  Smith+St. John; the Boston architecture firm Schwartz/Silver; and Windover Construction of Beverly.             “The expansion will benefit ​Athenæum members and staff, and it will also serve those in the scholarly community who will come to conduct research,” said Creelea Pangaro, a vice president of the Board. “We’ll be able to move employees out of improvised workspaces that developed over time in the architecturally-significant rooms at 10½ Beacon, and into connected, efficiently-organized offices at number 14. We will be renovating 2,000 square feet of space for storing our special collections. Most significantly, the move will free up more than 4,000 square feet in the one-of-a-kind library environment for the use of the library’s devoted members, who come to read, think, write, and gather together for discussions and events.”

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