Learn Firsthand about Athenæum’s Expansion Plans

Readers can learn firsthand look about the planned expansion of the Boston Athenæum from members of the project committee and library staff at the “Room to Flourish” information session on Saturday, March 16, at 10 a.m. at 10½ Beacon St.

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

Gregor Smith, principal for the South Hamilton-based real estate development and management firm Smith + St. John, said the Athenæum would take over two and a half floors at 14 Beacon St. “for mostly staff purposes.”

While a medium-sized meeting room, the patrons lounge, a catering kitchen and staff offices would occupy the first floor, the curatorial and administrative departments would be relocated to the fifth floor while the sixth floor would house cataloguing, digitization and the conservation lab.

“One of the main benefits of being at 14 Beacon St. is we all be in contiguous spaces on the same floor in the same building,” said William Evans, the Athenæum’s national endowment for the humanities chief librarian in charge of technical services, adding that the move would also open up 1,000 square feet at 10½ Beacon St. for member space.

At 10½ Beacon St., besides restoring reading space for members and adding shelves for the continually-growing library of more than half a million items in the circulating library, a multi-purpose room facing Beacon Street would be created on the first floor, as well as an open gallery via the removal of a wall separating the adjacent large and small existing spaces. The second-floor print room would be converted into a study room while third-floor staff space would be transformed into a reading room for members.

Floorplates between 3G at 10½ Beacon St. and the fifth floor at 14 Beacon St., as well as the fourth floor at 10½ Beacon St. and sixth floor at 14 Beacon St., would also be connected to facilitate open circulation between the two buildings.

Construction is expected to take one year and commence this December in phases, starting with the sixth floor of 14 Beacon St. and working downwards in that building before moving to 10½ Beacon St., said Creelea Pangaro, vice president of the board of trustees and chair of the project committee.

The deign team is now getting cost estimates on the schematic designs they commissioned, but Pangaro said the price of the project can’t exceeds the Athenæum’s fundraising forecast with the capital campaign now underway.

“This is the answer to our problems, since the Athenæum is always pinched for space,” Pangaro said. “It’s a location that on top of a hill that’s prime real estate, where there’s not much room for growth.”

And with this extensive expansion getting underway soon, now is time to join what remains one of the only independent libraries in the U.S.

“We want everyone to know that we’re open to them,” said Maria Daniels, director of communications and patron services. “Members use

[our facilities]

as their living room after work, and we typically host three events a week, as well as book talks, the occasional concert and social events.”

The cost to attend the March 16 “Room to Flourish” event is free for Boston Athenæum members and included with the $10 admission charge for non-members. To learn about membership and all its perks, visit www.bostonathenaeum.org.

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