New Lewes Public Library design unveiled

Exterior reflects local flavor with an eye on future
The new Lewes Public Library's exterior design has been unveiled and public reaction to it has been positive. Use of the library's interior space is being tightly defined by the library design committee and Becker Morgan Group architects. COURTESY BECKER MORGAN GROUP
October 25, 2013

The final exterior design presentation for the new Lewes Public Library leaves no need for viewers to imagine how the building will look.

A slideshow presentation of the design unfolds beginning with still renderings of the building as seen from various perspectives, followed by an animated 360-degree fly-around the structure.

Brad Hastings, Becker Morgan Group architect, presented the design to Lewes Mayor and City Council the panel’s Oct. 21 meeting at City Hall.

Hastings is assisting the library design committee to integrate its ideas into the building’s plans.

Together, they have completed the schematic design phase of the project and will now move to the design development phase.

Hastings said committee members were asked to take photos of buildings in the city reflecting what he calls a flavor of Lewes.

They came back with pictures of structures using combinations of materials such shake shingles and brick, board and batten siding, various styles of trim work, and a variety of cupolas.

Photos also included shots of the old U.S. Life Saving Station, and examples of gables, cornices, and various roofs, one of them a hip roof common to railroad stations of a certain era.

“Remember, this is the former site of a railroad station,” Hastings said, showing an old black-and-white photo of a railroad station for historical context. “This is what we’ve come up with,” Hastings said, showing the front entrance of the building in a color rendering.

The library has a long, open, central corridor that on entering provides a view the length of the building.

Hastings said the site would blend into Stango Park’s open green space creating exceptional views for patrons in windowed areas around the building.

Clerestory windows running along most of the structure’s upper level allow natural light to flood the central area below.

The new library site is a 5.5-acre parcel adjacent to Stango Park, the existing library and Freeman Highway.

The combined-use site is called the Lewes Gateway Project. With the library at its core, it will be a multipurpose amenity featuring connections to the adjacent Lewes-Georgetown Rail Trail, and the nearby Junction and Breakwater Trail.

The project would also include shared parking space; comfort stations; and a connection hub for shuttles and public, private and jitney transportation.

“We worked hard to break up the mass of the building,” Hastings said, displaying a full frontal daylight view that he changed into a view at dusk, with the library lighted outside and glowing with light from inside.

He then switched to a bird’s eye view that he said most people would never see. The nearly 30,000-square-foot building will have a large workspace where employees and volunteers process books and other library materials.

User numbers are expected to climb from about 17,000 residents in the library service area, to more than 25,000 a decade from now.

The building will have a 250-seat conference room and two smaller conference rooms that will be accessible when the materials area of the library is closed. The Friends of the Lewes Public Library will also have a store in this area.

The main area has sections designated for children, teens and adult collections. The Delaware Room, with its temperature and humidity controlled environment to protect its archival-historical collection, is placed in an area across from and visible to circulation desk staff.

The library also has a number of computer training areas, rooms for programs such as writer’s groups, literacy and book discussion.

Ed Goyda, library executive director said the exterior design is final, “although there may be very small tweaks when the project moves into the next phases.”

Ned Butera, Design Committee chairman, said the schematic design phase went smoothly because the committee established and followed rules and guidelines, such as respecting differing opinions and having an open mind.

“I think Brad summed it up best when he said he initially had reservations as to whether such a large committee could effectively work together and get the job done in a reasonable time frame.

“He quickly realized the library board had assembled an exceptionally talented and diverse team, which would work effectively and efficiently,” Butera said.

He said his job is to ensure the committee understands project goals and objectives, and then works to achieve them.

“I believe the well-received floor plan and exterior design schematics are testaments to the team’s talent,” Butera said.

Lewes resident Kay Carnahan said the building is a thoughtful blend of ideas from the public, which is a Lewes hallmark.

“It’s ambitious and big, and from the presentation I would say the designers are trying hard to incorporate local, vernacular architecture and the city's core values to create a long-lasting institution,” she said

Next, architects will determine specific and detailed interior and exterior requirements using input from the design committee, library board and staff

Design development is expected to take about four months and is estimated to be completed by Friday, Jan. 31.

Beckie Healey, library board president, said $9.3 million was the estimated cost for the building four years ago when the process started. She said after a construction manager is hired, the board would have more precise cost figures and the Capital Campaign Committee, forming now, would get to work. The library board will be able to set an official fundraising goal when those pieces are in place, Healey said.

Public presentations about the new library’s future are scheduled for 10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 26, and at 9 a.m., Monday, Oct. 28 in the Lewes Public Library.

For additional information and to see an animated fly-around the new library, go to