In 2017, it was announced that the Downtown Public Library would soon be home to an outdoor Reading Park, thanks to funding from the national Southwest Airlines® Heart of the Community program, as well as planning/design support from Project for Public Spaces. Since the time of the announcement, The Library has been working with various community groups (including students from the University at Buffalo School of Architecture & Planning) to flesh out the design details, and the way that visitors will interact with the park. Here’s a look at rendering, which is still considered a working drawing.
As we can see, the future grounds of The Library will no longer be disparate from the foundations of the library itself. Instead, the library will spill out onto the grounds, creating an atmosphere that is very inviting and interactive. Previously, long walls have prevented an intimate interaction with the library. Without walking up the steps and onto the concourse, visitors would not even feel a connection with the building. And even then, the concourse was more of a pass through than anything else.
Moving forward, the grounds of The Library will have more of a campus-feel, thanks to the various placemaking efforts that are being implemented.
“Placemaking is all about finding ways for everyone in the community to feel a sense of ownership over their public spaces. Our mission with Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grant recipients is to help them create a sense of place — bringing communities to their full potential,” said Phil Myrick, CEO of Project for Public Spaces.
“We are so excited to launch this new space in the center of downtown with our many generous partners, particularly our friends at Southwest Airlines,” stated Library Director Mary Jean Jakubowski. “This project will undoubtedly make a visible, lively difference in downtown Buffalo and for the Central Library. We can’t wait to have everything fully completed and available to everyone in our community for fun, learning and exploring.”
In the end, this never would have happened without Southwest Airlines.
“At Southwest Airlines we build strong communities wherever we are, whether at airports we serve, in our airplanes with our Customers, or in the communities where our People and Customers live and work,” said Linda Rutherford, Southwest Airlines Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer. “By investing in authentic relationships and creating spaces and opportunities that bring People together, we can build connections and strengthen communities. This is the inspiration behind Southwest Airlines’ Heart of the Community program. We’re excited to see the positive impact each of these spaces will have as a result of these grants.”
Reading Park construction is projected to be completed by early summer 2019.
The public is invited to “Fall in Love with Buffalo’s Reading Park” on Sunday, October 28 from 12:30 to 5:00 p.m. at the downtown Central Library, 1 Lafayette Square. This free afternoon of fall festivities, which includes family-friendly musical performances, hands-on craft activities, story times, a pumpkin patch, petting zoo, cider and donuts, poetry, and more, will launch downtown Buffalo’s newest public space on the Central Library’s front lawn, adjacent to Lafayette Square and anchoring Buffalo’s Literary Corridor on Washington Street. Ceremonies launching the Reading Park will take place at 2:00 p.m. Children are encouraged to attend in costume to participate in a festive Kazoo Parade in the Park at 3:00 p.m. The afternoon performance schedule includes family entertainers Kevin McCarthy and The Hill Brothers, hip hop performers Differential Flava Crew, Latin beat with Son Borikua, Taylor Made Jazz, Just Buffalo Literary Center’s spoken word poets, hula hoop master Benjamin Berry and a chess workshop.
The Reading Park is a collaborative venture by the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library with partners: the City of Buffalo, Buffalo Place Inc., Just Buffalo Literary Center, WNY Book Arts Center, Plurality Press, University at Buffalo School of Architecture & Planning, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Visit Buffalo Niagara, Hispanic Heritage Council of WNY, Literacy New York Buffalo Niagara, Restoration Society, Young Audiences of WNY, Project Flight, Association for a Buffalo Presidential Center, and County of Erie, Home Depot and Townsquare Media.