Part of a downtown redevelopment master plan and recipient of a significant state construction grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners’ Public Library Construction Program, the new Millis Public Library replaces the existing 1967 facility that no longer meets the needs of a growing community. The proposed library more than triples the existing building’s size, and is located in a more prominent corner location, vastly improving visibility and access to the library. The new 18,000 square foot building is planned on a single level to maximize visual supervision from the centrally located circulation desk and to minimize staffing requirements. In response to the increasing role that public libraries play as centers of community life and activity, the building is designed with flexibility in mind and allows separate off-hours access of a large multi-purpose program room, a conference room with an adjacent local history archival storage room, a kitchen, restrooms, and a room for use by the Library Friends group, while the rest of the library remains secure.
The building is influenced by and resolves distinctly different conditions and scales on all sides – a historic fire house museum, Niagara Hall to the east; a recently constructed three-story mixed-use development, Centennial Place, to the west; a large parking lot to the north; and the heavily trafficked Main Street to the south. The “C” shaped building footprint defines an internal green space sheltered from the noise of Main Street and serving as both a reading garden and a shared landscape between the library and Niagara Hall. The building’s organization around that central green space ensures that all areas of the library have access to natural light, ventilation, and views. The form of the library respects the character of the largely historic town creating a sensitively designed new civic building for the town of Millis. The project, which successfully met the challenges of a demanding schedule and limited budget, was completed in 2013 and is open to the public.