The Cambridge Public Library underwent an ambitious $90 million renovation and expansion. The original building, built in 1888, was extensively updated, and a new 77,000 SF wing adds space for more than 275,000 books, 90 computer stations, reservable meeting rooms, and a 220-seat auditorium. Acentech was selected by project architect William Rawn Associates to provide architectural acoustics and mechanical systems noise and vibration consulting throughout the new and renovated spaces.

One unique feature of the library’s design is the children’s room. Rather than the traditional small section on the main floor, the department encompasses the entire third floor of the new building. This created a challenge: how to provide proper sound isolation between noisy children on the open staircase, and the rest of the library. Acentech’s consultants worked with the design team to make the stairwell as absorptive as possible.

Another distinctive aspect of the project is the ceiling in the reading room. Again, Acentech worked with the design team to craft a solution that was a compromise between aesthetics and acoustics. The carefully selected perforated ceiling system meets the needs of the designers while also meeting desirable room acoustic parameters.

The Cambridge Public Library has been honored by the American Institute of Architects, Boston Society of Architects, ARCHITECT Magazine, the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and many other groups. In addition to these awards, the project received LEED Silver certification.

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