City is seeking proposals for public art at Adams St. library

Mayor Martin Walsh and his Office of Arts and Culture, in collaboration with the Boston Art Commission, announced last week that the city is seeking an artist or artist team to create a permanent public artwork for the new Adams Street branch of the Boston Public Library, now under construction with a reopening anticipated for late next year.

The budget for the project is $300,000; it is funded by the City of Boston’s Percent for Art program.

“The Adams Street Branch has long been a vital part of the neighborhood for many Dorchester families, and this project will allow us to better serve everyone who visits the branch,” said Walsh. “I’m confident that this new artwork will make the space more inviting and help us connect with even more families and residents in the area.”

The Adams Street library, one of 26 locations in the BPL system, opened at its current location in 1951, and has since been a vibrant part of its neighborhood.

The renovation project, which is being led by the city’s Public Facilities Department, with coordination from the architecture firm NADAAA, will double the size of the previous branch, and will feature a larger community room, a conference room, study room, music room, and a reading garden. 

Per the city’s instructions, artists may wish to consider the following design and programmatic elements to understand the community and inspire the artwork:

The project includes the protection of an oak tree that attendees at the first public meeting asked to be kept rooted in place on the branch’s grounds; ideas for increasing the sustainability of the development are already under way, including a plan to retain the storm water generated on the site; additional teen and children’s spaces are central to the design; the inclusion of a reading garden in addition to the other outdoor spaces is an important element for the branch users.

“The surrounding community has played a vital role in the design and development of this new building, and we look forward to bringing a new piece of artwork to this neighborhood that reflects the values and needs of local residents,” said Kara Elliott-Ortega, the city’s chief of Arts and Culture.

The call is for an exterior artwork to be installed by next August, and the city has identified three potential sites.

The city’s FY21-25 Capital Plan allocates $15 million to the Percent for Art program over the next five years. This, combined with $80,000 for temporary public art projects and several new City staff positions, is the most funding the city has ever dedicated to public art. 

A virtual Q&A session for artists and teams interested in applying will be held on Sept. The deadline to apply is Sept. 16 at 5 p.m. Learn more about the project at boston.gov.