A Library Grows Downeast

Simons Architects is working with the Jesup Memorial Library in Bar Harbor on a new addition to its historic 1911 building. The addition is the third phase of a four-phase plan for growth dating back to 2015, reflecting the library’s mission to “nourish minds, enhance lives, and build community.” Extensive restoration and rehabilitation work, as well as ADA accessibility and energy improvements, have already been made to the existing building.

This new 11,400-square-foot addition will almost double the size of the library and create three new entrances on two levels. A library is meant to be a safe harbor, so these new entrances are designed to be open and welcoming. The two-story connector to the existing building will have intuitive wayfinding and serve the community as an informal gathering space and viewing gallery. The lower level is community oriented, with a new multipurpose meeting room designed to seat up to 150 people and a makerspace classroom. The main level will house the relocated and expanded children’s and teen collections, with a storytime area, noisy/quiet study rooms, and directly adjacent restrooms.

The expansion also includes a new archive section dedicated to storing and maintaining historic maps of Acadia National Park as well as genealogical materials. There will be a classroom, public study area, archival research stations, and a digital lab.

The library has established environmentally responsible goals for a 100-year building for the addition, with a mass timber structure and a high-performance building envelope. The design will aim to minimize energy and water use as much as possible and provide the chance to reduce reliance on fossil fuels over time as systems are upgraded. Since the library is located in a moderate fly-through zone for bird migration, bird-friendly design strategies are being incorporated.

The new addition is “stepped back” from the existing library to celebrate its history and importance within the community while creating an inviting outdoor public space. Contemporary masonry and metal cladding were carefully selected to complement the existing building in their quality and materiality, but they are differentiated with the use of contrasting colors and large-format, contemporary glazing.   

Location: Bar Harbor

Architect: Simons Architects

Design Team: Scott Simons, FAIA, principal; Julia Tate, AIA, project manager; Matt Maiello, AIA, project architect; Sam Mellecker, designer

In collaboration with: Pamela Hawkes, FAIA, principal at Scattergood Design; Scott Whitaker, director of enclosure at LeMessurier (for existing building work) Mike Rogers, PLA, and Rob Krieg, PLA, at LARK Studio

Preconstruction Services: E.L. Shea Builders & Engineers

Construction Start: September 2023

Construction Completion: September 2025


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