The result of a visionary, decade-long undertaking, the Reimagined Parkway Central Library is now open to the public. This bold initiative has repurposed 41,000 square feet of previously closed book stacks for public and staff usage, resulting in three vibrant new spaces: The Robert and Eileen Kennedy Heim Center for Cultural and Civic Engagement, the Business Resource and Innovation Center (BRIC), and the Marie and Joseph Field Teen Center. Linking these to the historic building is the William B. Dietrich Grand Staircase, created with 14,000 square feet of marble salvaged during the renovation. Designed by acclaimed firm Safdie Architects and the largest renovation of Parkway Central since it was completed in 1927, this project has doubled the amount of publically accessible space in the building and set a new standard for what a 21st-century library can be. The Reimagined Parkway Central Library was made possible in large part by the William Penn Foundation's historic $25 million grant to the Building Inspiration initiative, as well as by the generosity of a number of private individuals, institutional funders, the City of Philadelphia, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.
Four new 21st Century Libraries have reopened their doors, after receiving extensive modernization and expansion. These pilot libraries—Lillian Marrero, Logan, Lovett Memorial, and Tacony neighborhood libraries, as well as the South Philadelphia Library, which reopened in 2016—have been reimagined and reshaped to meet the changing needs of today's library customers. All have been fitted with warm, state-of-the-art spaces, including a vibrant Children's Library, a dedicated Teen Zone, and a customized Pre-K Zone, as well as a welcoming living room space. These transformed libraries are all ADA compliant and universally accessible.
The Regional Research and Operations Center, a state-of-the-art facility with a climate controlled environment, is the new home for books, journals, and other less frequently requested material formerly housed in Parkway Central’s closed book stacks. Requests for items are placed through the library’s online catalog and delivered to Parkway Central within 48 hours. More info »
Parkway Central’s Fourth Floor recently underwent a stunning renovation, transforming it into a world-class meeting and event space with several conference rooms, an enhanced Skyline Room and Terrace, and a new Culinary Literacy Center and demonstration kitchen that teaches literacy skills through innovative—and delicious—cooking programs for Philadelphians of all ages.
The Rare Book Department has been renovated to include a new William B. Dietrich gallery for special exhibitions. In addition, previously unusable space has been re-purposed to create a climate controlled storage area for rare books, and the space that houses the Theatre Collection has been completely upgraded and refurbished.
Parkway Central Library's Philbrick Hall has reopened after extensive renovations. Made possible by generous support from 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 in a bright new color palette; 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 the latest technologies, including a surface table, plenty of new computers, and video walls that display information about upcoming programs and other Library news.
Shakespeare Park at 19th and Vine Streets underwent major renovations as part of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's Bridges Over 676 improvement project. The beautiful new forecourt to the Parkway Central Library has new benches, walkways, and outdoor lightning, and it is in bloom with flowers mentioned in William Shakespeare's plays. The library has hosted concerts and storytimes in the new space.
The Music Department in the Parkway Central Library has reopened following major renovations. The project included dramatic new lighting designed by Moshe Safdie Associates, the world-renowned architecture firm redesigning Philbrick Popular Library, which will reopen this winter. The lighting, which increases energy efficiency at Parkway Central, was inspired by the original fixtures on the second floor. The renovated department also features a new color palette, a reading area, updated listening stations, and state-of-the-art technology like touch-screen computers and scanners that transform sheet music into MP3s. Additional restorations were also made to the original ornate ceiling plaster and marble flooring.