Heart of the Community, Center of Light & Learning
Braddock Carnegie Library Renovation
To Project Types
Braddock, Pennsylvania | 49,000 SF Renovation
Personally dedicated by Andrew Carnegie in 1889, Braddock Carnegie Library was not only a space for books; it also housed a swimming pool, ceramics studio, music hall and other amenities. But by 1974, as the city shed industrial jobs, the library—underfunded, roof collapsing—was slated for demolition. Fortunately, a group of residents fought to save it, and began making critical repairs. Since then the library has slowly expanded its offerings, which now include a community print shop and an expansive alternative lending library—for everything from tools to original artwork. But much of the building remains unused.
A library created to meet community needs must always change to serve them.
Respectful of the library’s history, our renovation restores the building and transforms its spaces. Improvements include reorganizing and amplifying the adult, teen, and children’s service spaces; expanding the print shop into the unused attic; restoring and updating the music hall (for use by local schools and regional theater companies); and inserting ramps and platforms into the old pool to reinterpret its function as a “book dive”—a flexible event space and café. Along with the gym and music hall, the book dive can be rented during off hours to generate income to help sustain the library. By inserting an elevator, adding amenities like air conditioning, and strategically removing walls to open up the space, the renovation makes the library more intuitively navigable, accessible and comfortable.
As Braddock fell on hard times, the library became a place where the community’s needs were met. It provided a rare, public space where all were welcome. It offered a safe place for kids. It lent folding chairs, tables, and tents for family and neighborhood celebrations. A true community center, the expansion of the Braddock Carnegie Library will enable the library to continue enhancing its services, better meeting the needs of its community and fostering an ongoing renaissance in the heart of the Rust Belt.