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Friday, 2 March 2012

Free Library Make-Over Debuts

The 'new' Philbrick Hall 
Philbrick Hall Renovation
Part of Expansion Programme

After nine months of restoration work, Philbrick Hall at Parkway Central Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia reopened 2 March.

Made possible by the Annenberg Foundation, the renovation of Philbrick Hall opened up 2,500 square feet of previously inaccessible space to the public, including the Hall’s third floor mezzanine. The renovation features new seating, shelving, and window treatments; refurbished, original terrazzo floors; a restored, intricate plaster ceiling; and energy-efficient new lighting--all designed by Moshe Safdie Associates--allowing the historic grandeur of the Beaux-Arts room to shine through. At the same time, Philbrick Hall has been fully outfitted with several modern features, like plenty of new computers and video walls that display information about upcoming programs and other Library news.

In addition to the restoration of the space, 4,400 new items have been added to the already-extensive collections of contemporary fiction, non-fiction, and DVDs housed in Philbrick Hall--with more materials to be added in the coming weeks! The Hall is also home to the Parkway Central Library’s first-ever Teen Center for young adult customers. The 1,000-square-foot space features special lounge seating, work spaces for completing homework and other projects, and a selection of both Macs and PCs.

The renovation of Philbrick Hall was part of “Building Inspiration,” the plans to enhance and expand Parkway Central Library. “Building Inspiration” marks the first time in its 87-year history that the Beaux-Arts building has been extensively renovated. Last summer, the exterior of Parkway Central was refurbished and Shakespeare Park was revitalized as part of the project, with support from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community and Economic Development.

Beginning this June, the Free Library will begin the next phase of “Building Inspiration,” which focuses on converting staff and storage space at Parkway Central into public areas. The fourth floor will be extensively renovated and a professional-grade kitchen installed; conservation areas and public viewing spaces in the Rare Book Department will be enhanced; a modern, compact shelving system will replace the antiquated stacks system, opening up thousands of square footage to the public; and an exciting new public Common will be constructed, enabling ideas, shared learning, creativity, and opportunity to flourish in an open and unstructured environment. In all, more than 20,000 square feet of previously inaccessible space will be opened to the public during the next phase of the project.

As work moves forward at Parkway Central Library to restore and enhance this historic building, you can always get the latest progress updates on the Free Library's's renovations page.