The Library: A Renovated Writer’s Workspace

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We are designing places that are close to people’s family, that are close to their community, yet [are] isolated enough to bring focus and creativity,” says David Burke, creative director and founder of Beacon-based architecture firm DBA. Burke is referring to the changed focus of home renovations that emerged in response to the pandemic, what he dubs “the evolving home.” Burke recently helped New York Times Magazine staff writer Sam Anderson create a custom workspace of his own in Beacon, transforming a detached garage from the 1920s into a 400-square-foot library/workspace.

“Libraries have always been special places to me—I grew up going to them, I got jobs at them in college, I taught myself to write by sitting in the stacks and reading book after book after book. I’ve always dreamed of having a library of my own,” says Anderson. And in collaboration with Burke and his team and associated contractors, he was able to make his dream a reality. Over the span of a few months, the uninsulated space covered in moss was renovated and recast as a writer’s paradise.

The Library, as Burke titled the renovation, boasts full heating and cooling, a bespoke sliding ladder against custom-made bookshelves, a wall-to-wall desk accompanying the floor-to-ceiling window, and pendant overhead lighting with threaded rod structural bracings that blend into the background. The intricate custom-designed woodwork, including a plywood interior with seams that match up at each turn, is courtesy of DBA’s joint work with Hudson Handcrafted LLC contractor Marko Andric.

Burke credits the collaborative process between Anderson, Andric, and himself in creating the Library’s impressive final outcome. “Marko being so good with timber and wood construction, Sam wanting a high, open space and a lot of room for his books, and my experience putting all this together really brought the space to bear on what it is now,” says Burke.

The trio’s meticulous attention to the smallest detail yielded a warm, bright room perfectly conducive to a writer’s need for creativity and focus. “I think my favorite detail—which was another of David’s ideas—is the built-in desk. It’s 19 feet long, so I can spread out multiple projects on it at once,” Anderson says, pleased with the final result. “My wife said that if we’d hired a psychologist to design a perfect space for me, they could not have come up with anything better.”

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