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March 18, 2019

Parkway Central Library opening 41,000 square feet of new space

This is the largest renovation since the library was completed in 1927

Free Library of Philadelphia Renovations
Central Branch Free Library of Philadelphia Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

The Central branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

On Friday, April 12, the Free Library of Philadelphia will open 41,000 square feet of new public space in the Parkway Central Library on Vine Street.

There will be three new areas: the Robert and Eileen Kennedy Heim Center for Cultural and Civic Engagement, the Business Resource and Innovation Center (BRIC), and the Marie and Joseph Field Teen Center.


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More than 800,000 books and materials had to be moved for the largest renovation since Parkway Central was completed in 1927, according to the library. In 2006, when renovations began, only 35 percent of the building was open to the public. This April, the library's public space increases to 68 percent.

The $35.8 million renovation was funded by the William Penn Foundation, the City of Philadelphia, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program and donations from individuals.

Below is a time lapse of construction from December 2017 to December 2018, as well as a brief description of each new area.

• The BRIC was designed for small business owners and job seekers, with business, workforce development, patent and nonprofit resources, as well as conference and breakout rooms. 

• The Heim Center is located on a balcony overlooking the BRIC. The Free Library describes it as "a flexible community space where visitors define their own experience."

• The Field Teen Center is the first space in Parkway Central designed exclusively for teenagers only. It's a lounge area with flat screens and movable furniture.


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