Boston Public Library: Desktop luminaires reflect past and help herald future.March 2018

Located on one of the most pedestrian-friendly and vibrant retail streets in Boston, the Boston Public Library provides the city with a world-class civic monument. Noted architectural firm William Rawn Associates was tasked with the design challenge of honoring its landmark Johnston Building and simultaneously redefining it into the library of the 21st century, while famed architectural lighting expert Lam Partners brought the lighting vision to fore.

William Rawn’s team researched the design intent of the original building and extracted a set of core principles that preserve the successful elements of the original design. Several of the interior walls and floors were removed after entry to create a welcoming, civic scaled room dubbed the Big Urban Room, where Lumetta’s desktop luminaires figure. This room serves as both front door and a public gathering space for the city.

Brought in through Lam Partners, the desktop luminaires were custom designed to reference the original lamps in Bates Hall of the McKim Wing and help tie the two library wings together, in what was once an empty space. On Lam’s project webpage, the original lighting was described as: “…harsh and monochromatic”. “The new study tables bordering the central atrium have modern table-mounted task lights with green fabric shades, recalling the classic green-glass reading lights in the adjoining original McKim, Mead and White building.” Lumetta equipped the lamps with retrofit LED bulbs complete with USB outlets in the table lamp bases. Today, these tables are often the first to be claimed by patrons who find them highly practical for work/study but also a great location to see and be seen.

View some of our table lamp designs.

Credit: Exposure Lighting is the preferred agency for this project.
Photography courtesy of William Rawn Associates