New Canaan New Library
Centerbrook designed a new library for the residents of New Canaan that will be the physical and metaphorical heart of the community. Located on a prominent gateway site, the library will create a grand civic space that serves as a crossroads between the town’s commercial, educational, and residential districts.
New Canaan Library
In order to build broad-based support, Centerbrook engaged 40 stakeholders, including library trustees, neighbors, supporters, and elected officials, in a series of participatory design workshops. They developed priorities for the facility and considered how the site and building might be organized. From this highly collaborative process emerged broad support for maximizing the use of its current site and boldly addressing its needs with a brand-new facility.
The library will be a landmark that beckons the community. A new park will reach out, gently sloped to accommodate events and make it a comfortable gathering place.
The building’s entry will be located at the nexus of pedestrian circulation from downtown and nearby schools. It will welcome patrons in a copious lobby and beckon them up to a grand space whose fireplace, natural light, and access to the fiction collection will, it is hoped, become the town’s “living room,” a place where everyone is welcome.
Splaying out from the entry are library and program wings. The library wing lifts up three stories to accommodate the children’s library, circulation services, and offices on the first floor; non-fiction collections, study rooms, loose seating and a teen area with digital workspace on the second floor; and a loft-like meeting room with expansive views on the third floor. The children’s library will be organized into precincts by age, with a “cave” tucked under the living room and an outdoor garden. The low-slung program wing will feature a flexible, dividable, flat-floor program room to accommodate up to 300 people, and a demonstration kitchen.
New Canaan is known for its modern architecture, home to icons like Phillip Johnson’s Glass House, the Noyes House, and the serpentine Grace Farms complex designed by Pritzker Prize winning architects SANAA. Referencing modern traditions with its forms and composition, the building will be clad in dry-laid stone, punched with dramatic glass elements adorned by copper pipes that mimic New England forests. The stone drifts this way and that, melding into the landscape with the glass playfully stepping over and touching down. Its expansive flat roofs will support a photovoltaic array and long overhangs will provide shade and reduce energy use.
“This is truly an exceptional whole community effort to create a beautiful community anchor that supports wellbeing and fosters community as it functions as infrastructure for lifelong learning and social connectivity.” Lisa Oldham, Executive Director