An Outdoor Experience at Shrewsbury Public Library

With a focus on moving the community forward, the Town of Shrewsbury set out to renovate and expand its historic public library. Dating back to 1903, the Shrewsbury Public Library is a fixture in this quintessential New England town center. By improving the building’s efficiency and operations, creating new spaces for patrons of all ages, and upgrading its technology, the Town sought to deliver an enhanced facility that would better address current and future resident needs.

Bohler joined the architect and extended project team to help build upon the Town’s vision of an improved patron experience through the design of new outdoor gathering areas and meaningful enhancements to existing ones.

Bridging a Grade Divide

The library expansion required several additional parking spaces to serve the larger program. The Town of Shrewsbury secured the adjacent property to fulfil this need, but the grade difference between the existing library parcel and the newly acquired property represented significant design challenges.

Bohler worked closely with the project architect and extended team to identify several options for bridging this divide. Ultimately, the team delivered a grading solution that seamlessly integrated the building expansion into the site with entries at multiple levels and a new formal vehicular drop-off at the main entrance.

Bohler’s team incorporated numerous other creative grading solutions to help preserve many of the historic elements of the site, including the preservation of a decades-old katsura tree, the integration of the existing Shrewsbury Veterans Memorial into the overall pedestrian circulation system, and the inclusion of the historic grand stair to the oldest portion of the building.

Creating a Whimsical Children’s Learning Experience

One of the library director’s top priorities for the project was to create an outdoor space that would be an extension of the Children’s Reading Room to be used for story time, performances, and free play. Coordinating closely with the director, Bohler developed concepts for the space that met this program, incorporating an element of “whimsy.”

Components include decorative colored concrete paving designed to mimic a stream flowing from the retaining wall, sculpted bronze story characters, a “bridge” over the “stream” provided by a local art collector and benefactor, a painted steel pergola to provide shade and screening from nearby Main Street, and seatwalls and soft outdoor seating for story time gathering.

An Outdoor Experience at Shrewsbury Public Library

Preserving History

Though the library’s three-story expansion provided much-needed modern spaces, efforts to maintain the historic character of this community asset were equally important to the Town. To help accomplish this, Bohler’s team specified traditional furnishings throughout the site, including lantern light fixtures for the parking areas and pathways, as well as decorative benches, trash receptacles, railings, fences, and bike racks that are consistent with this theme and ultimately approved by the Town’s Historic Commission.

The Town completed the $21 million expansion project on time and on budget. The upgraded space offers new learning and study spaces, computers, and meeting rooms. The improved outdoor experience helps ensure that the library will remain a vital component of the Town Center for years to come.

40K SF Expansion
3 Story Addition
50 Parking Spaces

Ready to Move Forward?

Our approach makes a meaningful difference for our most ambitious clients. Contact us to learn more.

Let's Get Started