Honan-Allston Branch, Boston Public Library

Honan-Allston Branch, BPL

Machado Silvetti Associates, 2001

Harleston Parker Medal, 2003

Jorge Silvetti and Rudolpho Machado are long time Harvard professors who began their careers as polemicists, but have since built up a distinguished body of work for prestigious universities, art museums and institutions. Their work is characterized by sensitive connections to the urban context, idiosyncratic but well composed massing, and the inventive layering of richly detailed materials.

The expressive folded planes of the library’s front façade and roof are rendered in a variety of natural materials that frame welcoming ribbons of glass. Planes of Norwegian slate panels slide past a skin of Vermont slate shingles, which are anchored to the earth with rough stone sculpings. Unfinished wood window surrounds and columns give the animated composition a sense of warmth, and allow the upper portions of the building to float above the adjacent sidewalk.

The interior reading rooms wrap landscaped courtyards, and are flooded with natural light. A large function hall hosts community events, and a gallery showcases exhibits by local artists. Although individual areas are separated from one another, there is a sense of openness that ties the inside and outside together, and suggests the community connections so important to the mission of contemporary libraries.