INTERVENTION AT THE REDWOOD LIBRARY AND ATHANEUM
This adaptive reuse project intervenes in one of the oldest libraries of The United States.
The ultimate goal of the intervention is to transform the space into a more public and cultural zone which enables it to host larger exhibitions, performances, and activities related with its athenaeum function. This way the Redwood library transforms into a central point for the cultural movement of Newport. New facilities are integrated, such a cafeteria, a children’s wing, and a gallery space.
Although the first volume was conceived in 1750 by Peter Harrison, consecutive structures were added, the most recent dating from 2003. Despite that they have been designed by different architects, the whole building seems to stem from one single period. Its Classical-Palladian style is continuous through the years, making it difficult to recognize the most authentic part, which is the Harrison room.
In order to emphasize the building’s most genuine element, we create a casting of the Harrison room that is placed in its symmetric segment. As a volume that is extruded, its shape will be visible from the outside, allowing the visitors to make the association with the original Harrison room. This neutral and light volume will host a big part of the art collection from the library, thereby functioning as a gallery space.
Preserving the Harrison room and the Roderick Terry Reading room (the second addition from 1858), we restrict the interventions to the newest part of the building.
The main focus is to create a stronger connection with the garden, not only visual, but also physical. Two glass boxes will be added, allowing a cafeteria and more gallery space to be placed in direct relation with the garden. Visually, they seem to be conceived as a glass volume that breaks through the existing building and brings more light in. Functionally, they create a new transversal axis that makes the building accessible from both sides. Therefore, we create a new entrance from the garden facing the main street of Bellevue Avenue right next to where the original one was in 1750. The integration of these two volumes creates a relation of new viewpoints that break through the building.