In recent months, LPA|A has had the opportunity to re-engage with the Town of Westborough after a six-year break while the town waited for a key funding source to become available. The town first hired LPA|A in 2016 to take a look at the space needs of a library that was seeing continuous growth in attendance and circulation. The study recommended extensive renovation and an addition to better meet contemporary needs. This collaboration helped the town to secure a spot on the waiting list for a $9.4 million grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioner’s (MBLC) Construction Grant Program in 2017.
The library building, first opened in 1908, is undersized and not particularly well equipped for modern library use, but the historic building in its convenient downtown location is an invaluable asset for Westborough. Once the library moved its way up from 11th on the waiting list to first place, the town brought LPA|A back in to update the 2016 Feasibility Study, considering both the MBLC’s feedback and changes that have taken place over the past six years since the study was completed.
For example, last year the Town of Westborough adopted a climate action plan which will impact the library’s design, moving away from fossil fuels and toward electrification and renewable energy sources.
In an effort to uncover the best solutions for the many challenges presented by this complex and important project, the firm held an office-wide charrette — a workshop to explore design options, where staff work individually or in teams to develop concepts and solutions, then come together for presentations, feedback, and discussion. Several key takeaways emerged through this process, including a revised entry sequence that will be easier to navigate, accessible, and secure as well as some innovative ways to create outdoor spaces with connections to the interior spaces on a site that otherwise has limited opportunities.
The charrette process has an obvious benefit to clients — access to the experience and creativity of an entire team, bringing their fresh eyes and unique perspectives to their project. The process is also an opportunity for staff to learn from each other, consider new perspectives, and enhance existing collaborative relationships across the office.
The next steps in the project are to secure additional funding at a town meeting this October and if all goes according to plan, construction will get underway in the Spring of 2024. A temporary facility needs to be identified while design development begins in earnest this Fall.
The renovated library will include a 25,000 square foot addition to the existing 6,000 square foot original building, with better equipped and more flexible meeting areas, an expanded teen space, and a children’s area on an upper floor with an adjacent outdoor space.
The team will preserve the well-loved historic building, integrating the expanded space with the original design to provide relevant uses for beloved 100-year-old spaces. Sight lines will be dramatically improved, and with significant upgrades to their technological capabilities, and greater accessibility for patrons with disabilities, the library will be even more of a resource to the entire community for years to come.