Finegold Alexander’s Sustainable Library Design Renews Jones Library for Future Generations

The transformation of Amherst’s public library to feature community spaces, historic collections, and environmentally friendly design.

Exterior rendering of Jones Library
August 16, 2023
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The Jones Library was built in 1928 and championed a vision of community engagement and diverse collections.  After a century of beloved use and service, the Amherst community and Library Trustees partnered with Finegold Alexander Architects to continue this vision, meet today’s contemporary needs, and revitalize the library for the future.  Working closely with the client, the guiding principles for the renovation and addition are sustainability, accessibility, beauty, and durability.

The new three-story addition connects to the rear of the historic Putnam & Cox Library and will feature a large community room with gallery spaces for historic collections and work by local artists. The expanded children’s reading room and activity room will also include an outdoor learning and play area. This level is also home to the extensive adult fiction collection, and a renovated reading room.  A central roof monitor and tall windows bring natural light throughout much of the upper level where the young adult area, language center, and non-fiction collection reside.

Sustainability is a key driver in the project, and the library and community of Amherst established an early commitment to a hybrid wood and steel structural system to minimize the environmental impact of an expanded facility. Working closely with our project team and client, the team developed a design for the new addition that utilizes cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels at the upper floor and heavy timber columns and beams, lowering the embodied carbon by two-thirds compared with a conventional steel structure. In addition, the high-performance glazing and well-insulated walls and roofs reduce energy consumption by more than 60% to help reach the library’s ambitious sustainability goal.

The project is on schedule to begin construction in the spring of 2024, and we will look forward to sharing the new spacious, well-lit, and welcoming Jones Library to the community of Amherst in the fall of 2025.

Click here to learn more about the Jones Library project!