John Jermain Memorial Library

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Revised Oct 2017


A TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY LIBRARY We live now in a digital universe, its content apparently everywhere, apparently limitless, with answers seemingly always at hand. Within this ever-expanding space, the public library - physical, tangible - has found renewed purpose and meaning in the life of society. It is taking on more roles and becoming increasingly important to people of all ages as they engage in media of all kinds - print and digital - and in direct interaction with one another in a place that represents knowledge as a realm made available to all. At the public library all can experience a sense of belonging and connection to the world in a way that is unique. More than even before, the public library is a new locus for civic life. The John Jermain Memorial Library project is a building restoration and an addition to the public library of Sag Harbor, New York, at the eastern end of Long Island. It restores an early twentieth century building, for Sag Harbor an historically significant and much valued work of architecture, and adds new space to both support and enlarge a vision of what a public library can be in the life of the community it serves. NEWMAN ARCHITECTS Founded in 1964, Newman Architects provides master planning, programming, architectural and interior design services. A knowledge-driven practice, Newman Architects works to make evocative, thoughtful and sustainable environments that advance human wellbeing. With a focus on architecture for community, work, and learning, and completed projects in cities and towns, and on campuses across the U.S., the quality of our work has been acknowledged with over 150 awards for design excellence. Newman Architects has offices in New Haven, Connecticut, and Washington, DC.



PLANNING & DESIGN Completed in 2016, this project is the outcome of many years of effort by the John Jermain Memorial Library to decide how best to further its purposes in Sag Harbor. Facing increased demand for more services to the community, its building, which is well-located, highly valued, and designed for an earlier time, was in need of renovation and was too small to meet the demands placed on it. The original 1910 Beaux Arts library building is representative of its type, one of hundreds of public libraries built at the turn of the century in the United States. Like many such libraries, it was the most monumental and most expensive building in town. The John Jermain Memorial Library, a gift of Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage, drew Sag Harbor, then a remote, former whaling village into the orbit of a larger world. As a building, its setting was not defined solely by the wood frame houses that

surrounded it. Through its architectural language it represented society as a whole: civilization, art and culture, learning, great thoughts, the pleasures of the mind. Yet, whereas many small town libraries of this period, are diminutive, scaled more to the domestic scale of the houses that stand near them, this building is different. Its scale is of the city.

had to grow in order to serve in different ways, there was in Sag Harbor a strong conviction that the original building also remain as it was - maintained in the way people understood it to have always been.

By the beginning of the twenty first century, when this project to renew the library was initiated, Mrs. Sage’s gift was no longer a portal to a larger world beyond. Sag Harbor was by now long connected to the outside world, and the library spoke more of connection to the past. In a time of accelerating change, it was inadequate to address the future.

The library and community liked the way the building stood in its setting: a singular presence and singular form. They liked the clear contrast between its brick and limestone and the painted wood clapboard and trim of its neighbors. They liked its comfortable dominance. Yet to secure the library’s continued presence as a library, there would be an addition as large as could be accommodated, as close as possible to the adjacent properties and to the two streets that together defined the library’s lot.

The original building is a complete form, not conceived as something that might one day grow. Yet it had to grow, and on a site that seemed almost too small for an addition. Moreover, while the building

The new addition provides a core of service space that enables the spaces in the original building to better address the needs of the library. The addition also accommodates a new program room,

reading and collections areas. The library is no longer crowded into the envelope of the original building. Outside, the new addition occupies what was open space in a way that is intended to maintain the quality of openness that preceded it. While dissimilar in form and scale, the addition alludes to the original. The vertical division of the addition into three parts repeats the three-part composition of the original library. Its vertical fin-like window mullions resemble columns, albeit thin, and their informal spacing creates divisions that reflect the proportions of the columns and spaces between the columns on the original building. This spacing is also suggestive of the informal relationships between the houses and trees that frame the library. In the past, libraries have been seen as places where the human record lay protected from the depredations of the

world. The library was the vessel that preserved the written word. It was where civilized thought, or what remained of it, found shelter from the chaos outside. Accordingly, the original John Jermain Memorial Library, brick and stone, and its form protective, an outward expression of what lay within, something finite – with small windows that allows light in but not a view out, maintains its interior as a place separate, maintains for all time its contents within. Or so it suggests. That has all changed. Where information exists everywhere, accessible if invisible, there is little to protect in that manner, not in Sag Harbor. And, whereas in the past, the library connected an isolated Sag Harbor to an unknown, desired and precious world beyond, now - although connected to everywhere else, seamlessly through media - it is Sag Harbor, which, because it can be had nowhere else, is desired, precious, and to be protected.

So, with nothing precious inside to protect, the addition is mainly glass, drawing its setting into its interior. In the new buildings, the light goes both ways and its setting, desired and precious, provides enclosure. The original building separates interior from exterior, the addition allows exterior space to flow into and through its interior, making interior space one with exterior space. Whereas the original presents itself as an entity distinct from its setting, the addition suggests that it is one with its setting. Although drawing on the texture and tonality of its setting, a building of informal order, defined by light and shadow rather than mass, large scale, and regularity, the addition is nevertheless not intended to be seen as secondary. We intend that it hold its own, describing its relationship to the world as being of equal importance as that of the original building. This relationship, its place in a world of knowledge and in

the society it serves, however, is not the same as the library of 1910. Its response is to and of a milieu that is of a new century. Necessity determined that the John Jermain Memorial Library, a monument to knowledge, to civilization, and to the power of the word, be increased in size, even though, as a work of architecture, it was already complete, already large enough. We wished an addition were not necessary. As a necessary addition, we wanted it to be an addition worthy of the original building, while wanting also that what it replaced – air, open space, and the experience of its setting – would in some way remain.

Was it possible to have all four: a necessity addressed, an addition worthy of the original, an addition attentive to its role and to a new vision of what a public library can be in the life of the community it serves, and an addition expressive of what it supplants – air, space, light, and shade? This project is an answer to those questions. Newman Architects

In the reading room of the restored building is a selfsupporting terracotta tile dome. A late nineteenth century invention of Rafael Guastavino, a Spanish-born architect and builder, this structural system is found in many BeauxArts public buildings in the United States of the period.










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12 4 Level 1

Level 2

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Room Legend 1. Plaza 2. Entry 3. Foyer 4. Reference 5. Children’s Area 6. Teen’s Area 7. Fiction 8. Non-Fiction 9. Reading Room

10. Gallery 11. Program Room 12. Content Creation Lab 13. Business Center 14. Archives 15. Director’s Office 16. Adminstration 17. Staff Room 18. Mechanical

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Lower Level

East View | Side Elevation

North View | Union Street Elevation

West View | Jefferson Street Elevation

South View | Side Elevation


FROM BUILDING TO ARCHITECTURE One way to describe architecture in relation to building is to say that architecture is the expression in what we build of why we build. In that light, whatever the size or purpose, every building project is an opportunity to make architecture. The original John Jermain Memorial Library building is one that seeks to convey importance of purpose through its form. It is manifestly a work of architecture – as an expression and embodiment of human knowledge and of human possibility. It was our intention that its addition be no less, and in terms given by its own circumstances: to make a place sensible to its reasons, its setting, and its existence: all as they were understood in the blink of human history in which this effort took place. Our intention was to show a library that would continue into the future, complete - as it was originally conceived - and also transformed. Renewed and reimagined, it would reflect both contemporary thinking about the role of the library in a digital age and the perennial thinking expressed in the original building: the library as a bulwark against ignorance, isolation, and as an opening to the world. Different and yet the same.

John Jermain Memorial Library Catherine Creedon, Director Architect Newman Architects

Envelope Consultant Leavitt Associates

MEP/FP Engineer Altieri Sebor Wieber

Construction Manager (Pre-construction) Sandpebble Builders

Structural Engineer Robert Silman Associates Civil Engineer The Raynor Group Landscape Architect Elizabeth Ann Franz Preservation Consultant Building Conservation Associates Lighting Consultant Patrick B. Quigley & Asssociates

Construction Manager (Construction) Trunzo Building Contractors Architect (1910 building) Agustus N. Allen

Photography Robert Benson Photography Peter Newman Graphic Design Newman Architects Nicholas Vittorio

Donors Over three thousand donors contributed funds to make this project a reality. Those whose names are acknowledged in named spaces at the library, include: Billy, David, and Al Baldwin for Ted Baldwin Bridgehampton National Bank Jacqueline Brody for Eugene D. Brody Susan Dusenberry for Philip Dusenberry William, Lorraine and Lynn Egan Friends of the Library Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation Robert and Elizabeth Hooke Family Jo Malone London Steven Kossak

John and Evelyn Kossak Foundation Barbara and Ghilia Lipman-Wulf for Peter Lipman-Wulf Family and Friends of Christiane Neuville Laurence and Pamela Rossbach Pia Scala-Zankel and Jimmy Zankel Nicole Seligman and Joel Klein Family and Friends of Gail Slevin Sally Susman and Robin Canter Paul A. and Jeanette Sarkisian Wagner Susan Kohner Weitz for John Weitz


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