Eastham Public Library
Architect: Oudens Ello Architecture
Owner: Eastham Public Library
Location: Eastham, Massachusetts
Recalling Cape Cod’s mid-century modern heritage, the Eastham Public Library in Eastham, Massachusetts, represents the juxtaposition of modern facility and historic artifact. Airy, warm, and overlooking one of the area’s many glacial kettle ponds, this new library is well-equipped to welcome patrons in this popular summer destination, where the population swells from about 5,000 to nearly 30,000 in the warmer months.
"How amazing it must be to read inside this library and connect with the beautiful surrounds in a peaceful setting." ~ Jury statement
Since it opened in January 1898, the original one-room, 300-square-foot Eastham Public Library has undergone two additions as its collections and patron base grew. To meet the needs of today’s community, the design team removed an outmoded 1980s addition and replaced it, doubling its size, with a sleek LEED Gold certified building that blurs the line between indoors and outdoors. To reconcile the size of the addition to the original library, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the majority of the new building mass was positioned at the rear of the site, taking full advantage of the library’s waterfront setting while minimizing the visual impact on the small structure from the road. A palette of naturally weathering materials—cedar shingles and siding, bluestone flooring—relates the contemporary structure to its seaside location and vernacular of the historic building.
The addition takes advantage of the sloping site and maintains the appearance of a single-story structure, important to the residential context that surrounds it. Inside, the upper level encompasses the lobby, circulation desk, and adult reading room and stacks, all arranged around a Wi-Fi–enabled central reading garden. The children’s and young adult areas are housed in the lower level, which encourages interaction with the outdoor program area. Flexible community spaces have drastically altered the library’s ability to accommodate the discrete demands of a modern library program. The overall flexible design of the library has made it more attractive to community groups, and relationships with local artists and historians have blossomed.
"The building engages the site well, bringing in the outdoor spaces and relating to the surrounding natural features." ~ Jury statement
Protecting and enhancing the adjacent Depot Pond and surrounding wetlands was an early and key factor for the project. While the original building and its early additions were located within the 100-foot wetland buffer, the library’s parking lot sat fully within it and the sloping paved driveways did little to control runoff to the pond. The town’s acquisition of an adjacent parcel allowed the library team to relocate parking to a level site equipped with a robust stormwater retention system and vegetated bioswales to manage storm surge.