Project DescriptionFROM THE ARCHITECTS:
The new Slover Library is a restoration of the 115-year-old Seaboard building (formerly a customs house before becoming home to Norfolk’s main library in 2009), a new seven-story glass walled addition, and a renovation of an adjacent commercial building, the Selden Arcade. The Seaboard’s interior cortile, a central court surrounded by an arcade and a ring of enclosed rooms, is mirrored in the design of the glass addition. The western wall of the Seaboard has been opened to the new space, making its interior accessible to library patrons, while remaining visually connected to the outdoors through the new addition. Natural light weaves through the material of the new building to unite an interior public realm with the outdoor public realm of the city. The new Slover Library embodies the principal roles of today’s library: as a storehouse for the region’s history and artifacts, as a portal to digital access, and as a community gathering place.
Slover Library reflects a relationship between the old and new: the solidity of the restored masonry Seaboard and a transparent and inviting addition. The spaces are structured to link to each other through the Forum, a three-story atrium at its center. Visitors can see the library contents upon entering the building and elect to explore the collection and engage in the programs. The library is a series of spaces and activities displayed off this central space. A hub for exchange and interchange, Slover Library is a town in miniature, with the Forum serving as its town square.
As one approaches Slover Library from the MacArthur Station, the new addition emerges from behind the Seaboard, its incremental ascending building blocks culminate at the top with a sculpture suggesting an opening book.
“The 21st century public library has to adapt to the age of e-books and online content. No longer is it defined as a repository of books, but more as a community anchor to encourage civic engagement. We designed Slover Library to respond to the growth of Norfolk and to create a space that welcomes all of its residents, and learners of all ages,” said Herbert S. Newman.