By Malena Solin ’20
Bruce Danzer, an architect who visited Thacher in early December, specializes in interior finishing and has been helping libraries to reorganize their spaces to serve many uses for a variety of people. He came to Thacher to see our library and give suggestions on how to improve its organization and design.
Mr. Danzer, who received his masters from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, recently worked on the renovation of the central branch of the Boston Public Library. He created a new atmosphere for the library, saying, “it went from drab beige to pretty exuberant in color with and really dynamic furniture that deals with all sorts of demographics and age groups.” Seeing the design improvements Mr. Danzer made to the Boston Public Library on a summer visit, Thacher teacher, Jake Jacobsen, who was Mr. Danzer’s roommate at Trinity College, invited Mr. Danzer to Thacher to make suggestions for our library’s design.
One of the most important things to consider when renovating a space, Mr. Danzer says, is client input. In the case of schools this means talking to students and faculty about possible uses and formations for the library. Mr. Danzer says of designing a new space, “It’s often a process of showing many options. We often do test sits where we bring in pieces of furniture for people to use to just test comfort and suitability. So it’s a pretty collaborative process. I also do try to bring a lot of research to it and look at a pretty wide range of furniture and sometimes surprise people by what they end up liking.”
When designing a building’s interior, Mr. Danzer focuses on outlining his priorities, looking first at what can be changed quickly and at a low cost. For Thacher’s library, Mr. Danzer saw some immediate fixes such as reorganizing book stacks and furniture, as well as improving the carpets and lighting. He also observed the general design and feel of library, noticing an inconsistency where the ceiling in some parts of the library is dark wood and in others is white. Mr. Danzer would like to extend the wooden ceiling theme throughout the library, creating a more continuous style in the building.
In his goals for the library, Mr. Danzer emphasized his belief that, “any design needs to be appropriate to the culture here and to the existing buildings.” He understands that students have many types of assignments that they want to do in the library, so having a combination of quiet study spaces and group work areas where people can make more noise, while maintaining the original character of the building, is a priority.
Mr. Danzer experienced the need for a design that allows people to communicate or work alone in his renovation of the library in Boston and says, “I’ve worked on a couple of branch libraries and they used to be rather unpleasant spaces with a real focus on books and a few reading tables; now a branch library is more of a community center.” Mr. Danzer’s work is improving the social structure and usefulness of libraries by taking into account all of the different kinds of people who use the space and all of their uses for it.
He says, “Public libraries now have a lot of cutting edge facilities, so it’s really about long term learning rather than storing a bunch of books…People are collaborating in groups, kids are going in for story time, and so they’re a little more exuberant.” Mr. Danzer is using the modern expectation that libraries are “community center[s]” that can serve a wide range of people’s working, reading, and studying needs to improve the design of Thacher’s library. His suggestions bring our library to the forefront of using space effectively, creating the best studying and reading experiences for Thacher students.