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Lillian Marrero Library

Lillian Marrero Library

A landmark library reinvented with a glass lantern addition.

The Free Library of Philadelphia is a publicly funded series of safe spaces where people, ideas, and communities can grow. Each year it welcomes 6 million visitors to its 54 neighborhood libraries. As a part of the Building Inspiration: 21st Century Libraries Initiative, four pilot libraries are reopening to the public after receiving extensive modernization and expansion. Lillian Marrero Library is the most magnificent building of the four pilot locations. Completed in 1906, the building was a gift from Andrew Carnegie. To ennoble the experience of borrowing a book, Carnegie libraries were often modeled on classical palaces, with grand staircases, columned porticos, and hushed, wood-paneled reading rooms. Formerly known as the Lehigh Avenue Library, it was renamed in 2005 in honor of Lillian Marrero, a community organizer and Free Library librarian.

The main goal of the lighting was to introduce budget, energy and maintenance conscious lighting that provides even ambient light levels while respecting the character of the historic architecture. The greatest challenge was determining how to introduce adequate ambient light levels without compromising the integrity of the expansive 26-foot tall coffered ceiling. It was clear that during the 1960s, mercury vapor troffers were added to replace select sections of coffers.

The main goal of the lighting was to introduce budget, energy and maintenance conscious lighting that provides even ambient light levels while respecting the character of the historic architecture. The greatest challenge was determining how to introduce adequate ambient light levels without compromising the integrity of the expansive 26-foot tall coffered ceiling. It was clear that during the 1960s, mercury vapor troffers were added to replace select sections of coffers.

It wasn’t until we accessed the attic space through the roof that the coffered ceiling was discovered to be a full false skylight. Years of neglect and failed attempts at maintaining original and replacement technologies rendered the “skylight” useless.

It wasn’t until we accessed the attic space through the roof that the coffered ceiling was discovered to be a full false skylight. Years of neglect and failed attempts at maintaining original and replacement technologies rendered the “skylight” useless.

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By introducing a simple 2 by 2 18-watt LED lay-in troffer, we were able to completely transform the existing “skylight” into a functional element while maintaining the library’s very strict budget.

By introducing a simple 2 by 2 18-watt LED lay-in troffer, we were able to completely transform the existing “skylight” into a functional element while maintaining the library’s very strict budget.

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The original glass ceiling was freed of existing lighting attempts, cleaned and sealed. 216 3000k LED troffers were laid above the 22” glass panes.

The original glass ceiling was freed of existing lighting attempts, cleaned and sealed. 216 3000k LED troffers were laid above the 22” glass panes.

In the glass box addition, LED accent lights and pendants were added to highlight gathering areas while linear LED pendants were suspended in the 3-level atrium to create a visual feature.

In the glass box addition, LED accent lights and pendants were added to highlight gathering areas while linear LED pendants were suspended in the 3-level atrium to create a visual feature.

To illuminate the exterior of the building, adjustable LED flood lights were added to existing light wells to wash the façade. Existing downlights at the original entry were replaced with shielded low glare LED fixtures. Mechanized sheer roller shades on the interior were backlit with LED grazers to illuminate the interior as a lantern after hours.

To illuminate the exterior of the building, adjustable LED flood lights were added to existing light wells to wash the façade. Existing downlights at the original entry were replaced with shielded low glare LED fixtures. Mechanized sheer roller shades on the interior were backlit with LED grazers to illuminate the interior as a lantern after hours.

Historic lamp posts were replaced with LED versions, and handrail and bollard lighting were introduced at the entrances to the modern glass addition.

Historic lamp posts were replaced with LED versions, and handrail and bollard lighting were introduced at the entrances to the modern glass addition.

James R Keller LLC and Vitetta

Location, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

All before images by Charlie Dumais

All after images used with permission from Jeffery Totaro

WME/IMG

WME/IMG