Architect Tapped, Meeting Set for Long-delayed JP Branch Library Renovation

Jamaica Plain Branch of the Boston Public Library

Chris Helms

Jamaica Plain Branch of the Boston Public Library

Residents hoping that the often-promised, never-delivered revamp of the Jamaica Plain Branch Library have a reason for cautious optimism.

An architect has been appointed for the long-delayed project of bringing one of the Boston Public Library’s most actively-used branches up to date for handicap accessibility and a host of other improvements. The building was last renovated in 1962, according to Gretchen Grozier, president of the JP Historical Society and member of Friends of the Jamaica Plain Branch Library.

Residents can find out much more about the project at a public meeting set set for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 9 at Curtis Hall, right across from the library itself. The meeting will be on the second floor. A team from the Boston-based architecture firm Utile will be there to explain the project, according to an email from a Boston Public Library official.

You might be familiar with some of Utile’s projects. For instance, they designed the “energy positive” town houses in the Bourne neighborhood. They’ve also been tapped for the enormous Hughes Oil project, which would bring 280 apartments along with retail to Forest Hills.

Residents probably don’t need much convincing of the need for updates to the 12 Sedgwick St. branch. As Grozier points out, community groups can’t use the basement room because the building doesn’t comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

If this story is giving you deja-vu, it’s because the renovations have been on the cusp of happening before. Back in 2007 the project had funding and was on the city’s capital budget.

“We’re at the part we were before, but there’s no guarantee,” Grozier said. “They know how up in arms the JP community would be if it was [killed off again.]”

Plans for the renovation may include more space for teens and a green roof (possibly with bees!)

Historical view of the adults' reading room at the JP Branch Library.

Boston Public Library via Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/boston_public_library/

Historical view of the adults' reading room at the JP Branch Library.

[Editor’s note: I’ve updated this post to reflect that the information about the public meeting came via an email.]