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Entrant Name
Bassetti Architects

Design Team
James Howeth, James Moehring, Lindsay Crawford, Kristian Kicinski


Owner / Client
Kristian Kicinski

Book Box

All Submissions > Scale 1: Human Scale

“Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” the newspaper boys would call.

Years later the boys selling papers on street corners were replaced by newspaper dispensers.

Today, newspapers struggle to survive in the digital age. In 2012, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer moved to online-only, leaving behind all of their old newspaper dispensers. These can still be found in abundance at reuse centers around Seattle. The Book Box explores how this functional box can be reintroduced back into its native urban landscape and given a new life as a Little Free Library.

Little Free Libraries are small structures located in neighborhoods adjacent to the public street. They provide an opportunity for the community to share books, and hold approximately 20 volumes. Users can leave books as well as take them for free.

The Book Box project was built for the 2014 Design Festival Libraries on the Loose competition with the following design goals: a contextually sensitive aesthetic, use of readily available salvaged products, durable, weatherproof, inexpensive, easy to build, and easy to use.

The newspaper dispenser became the natural starting point, as it supported the design goals and felt appropriate in the urban context. The dispenser is constructed of heavy-gauge welded steel with a spring loaded door that latches open when browsing and automatically swings shut when closing. Alterations to fabricate the Book Box involved as much deconstruction as it did construction. With the coin box, sprung shelf, and concrete ballast removed all that remained was the weatherproof box and hinged door. The addition of ipe wood panels (left over from a deck project) provided a durable finish and a crisp appearance that is comfortable with the garden backdrop, but tough enough to withstand the rigors of public life in its new home in the heart of the Central District of Seattle.

The Book Box project serves a large neighborhood that includes the Garfield Community Center, Garfield High School, and Horace Mann Alternative School. The nearest registered Little Free Library to Book Box is more than 10 blocks away.

Sitting on the concrete base in front of the Garfield Condominiums, the Book Box is complete with laser-etched words identifying the neighborhood, magnetic letters to engage patrons of all ages and a solar powered LED to illuminate the library at night. The utilitarian newspaper dispenser, once a discarded piece of urban furniture, was transformed into an asset that enriches the urban experience.