Awards and Recognition Architects and Contractors Construction Completed--Images More Information
The Renovation Project Background More Images In The News
Schedule The Move    

Awards and Recognition

The new addition, designed by Centerbrook Architects and Planners, LLC, has been recognized with the following awards:

Environmental Design + Construction magazine's 2009 Excellence in Design Awards, Finalist, Education category

Society of College and University Planning, Excellence in Architecture for Building Addition, Merit Award

Metal Architecture Design Awards, Best Metal Roofing Award

The Boston Society of Architects, Honor Award for Interiors (see jurors' comments on page 5 of 2008 BSA/IIDA/ASID Interior Architecture/Interior Design Awards Program)

The Reading Room interior has been featured on the covers of the August 2008 issue of Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries and Convergence: Annual Report of the Librarian, Yale University Library, 2006-2007.

{back to top}

The Renovation Project

The Library's major building renovation project, completed in the fall of 2007, has provided a spacious reading room, state-of-the-art collection storage, a classroom, new staff and conservation workspace, and an exhibition gallery.

The work took place in two phases. Phase I included the construction of an addition roughly in place of the existing garage and Print Room, and extensive renovation of the connecting wing (the Side Hall, the Reading Room, and the Reference Room). Phase II encompassed improved lighting in the New Library and the conversion of the North and East Libraries into exhibition and classroom spaces.

Artist's rendering of the Lewis Walpole Library, showing the planned renovation and addition, as seen from Main Street, Farmington.

Design of the new addition

The new addition has been designed to resemble a barn, recalling the Connecticut tradition of connected farm builidings while preserving the residential image and scale of the historic Cowles House. Collections are shelved on two levels, one below ground, and a custom elevator has kept the roof as low as possible. The Reading Room, which shares the first floor of the new barn with staff offices and workspaces and an area for conservation, measures 971 square feet and easily accommodates up to ten readers.

Environmentally sustainable features

The building design and construction were planned to allow the barn addition to be certified as a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Building by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Selective demolition of building and site resulted in 50% (minimum) waste (by weight) being recycled, reused, or reclaimed instead of being dumped in a landfill.
Stormwater runoff from roofs and parking areas were retained on site resulting in no additional burden on municipal storm water systems.
Heating and cooling for the new addition and renovated existing spaces were provided by an energy-efficient geothermal heat pump system.
Building materials incorporated into the addition were obtained from producers who are as local as practicable.

{back to top}


Construction began in May 2006, and was completed in September 2007.

Phase I: Addition and Connector

November 2005: Library moved to reduced service schedule
May-June 2006: Site preparation

May 2006: Partial demolition of existing structure [click here for pictures]

June 2006: Foundation for new addition [click here for pictures]
July-August 2006: Framing [click here for pictures]
August-October 2006: Exterior construction (roof, walls, windows, doors) [click here for pictures]
October 2006-April 2007: Interior construction [click here for pictures]
October -December 2006: Site improvements
June 2007: Library reopened
Phase II: Exhibit Space and Classroom

May 2007: Demolition of interior
June-August 2007: Interior construction
September 2007: Exhibit space and classroom opened

{back to top}

Architects and Contractors

Artist's rendering of the planned addition and renovation from the southeast

Centerbrook Architects and Planners, LLC, were the architects for the project.

PAC Group, LLC, were the general contractors.

{back to top}


The Library from the south

The Cowles House from the northeast

The Lewis Walpole Library's mission is to carry forward the Lewises' vision of a vibrant center for eighteenth-century studies and to participate as fully as possible in Yale's educational and intellectual programs. In recent years the Library found itself increasingly hampered by the physical limitations of the building. Collections were at risk from inadequate environmental control, and susceptible to fire and flood. The readers were spread over two small and separated areas, requiring the staffing of two reading rooms and causing real inefficiency for readers and staff alike. There was no dedicated classroom space and, in fact, no space to accommodate a class larger than ten or so. Exhibition space was restricted to a narrow hallway--and this for a collection so rich in graphic materials. Staff and workstations were wedged into every available spot, including the garage, the tiny maids' rooms upstairs in the Cowles House, and what was a passageway between stacks and a lavatory. The need for renovation became more and more compelling, and in 2003, the firm of Centerbrook Architects and Planners was engaged to help the Library create a more controlled environment for the preservation and security of the collections and improved access for researchers to the Library's materials.

Before beginning the design process, Centerbrook held a series of workshops with a range of participants to document the Library's goals and priorities. Representatives from the Library's Board of Managers, Lewis Walpole Library staff, other librarians, students, scholars, and several of the Library's neighbors walked the site together, discussing key elements, views, and existing conditions.

The workshops and ensuing program consultation with the staff clarified the Library priorities: preservation and conservation of the collection, improved accessibility to the collection for scholars, and the historic integrity of the site and buildings. The 13,000 square foot addition designed by Centerbrook includes a reading room for up to ten visiting scholars, state-of-the-art collection storage, and relocated staff and conservation workspaces. Importantly, it also continues to allow public access to exhibitions of the collection and house. The project has undergone many reviews by the Yale Office of Facilities, the Lewis Walpole Library Board of Managers, and the Yale Design Advisory Committee. All three groups concurred--the new addition should be designed as a durable, handsome, background building to the eighteenth-century Cowles house.

{back to top}

The Move

In preparation for the move of the collection and the renovation project, the entire building was documented photographically inside and out by Phil Handler of Fly On The Wall Productions.

The Print Room. Photograph by Phil Handler of Fly On The Wall Productions

Boxed books

Crated paintings

Library staff worked throughout the winter with staff from Clancy Cullen Library Division and USArt to pack the majority of the Library collections to be sent to storage. [click here for more images of the move]

State archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni led a team from the Friends of the Office of State Archaeology (FOSA), who packed the contents of the William Day Museum of Indian Artifacts, which houses Native American artifacts excavated on the property. Another team from FOSA excavated test pits in the area between the Museum and the site of the new addition to check for artifacts.

checking for artifacts

{back to top}

Construction Completed

New addition, from Main Street

New entrance

Addition and new entrance, from Root House Terrace

New entrance, side view

New addition, side view


New Reading Room, looking west

New Reading Room, looking east

Reception, with portrait of W.S. Lewis

Reception, with landscape view of Strawberry Hill over mantel

Exhibit space, formerly the North Library and Manuscript Room

Long Hall

{back to top}

More Images

For more images of the move [click here for pictures]

For images of construction phases of the project:

For images of the completed project see photos on the Lewis Walpole Library project page on the Centerbrook Architects site click here.

{back to top}

More Information

For more information, please contact

Nicole L. Bouché, W.S. Lewis Librarian and Executive Director

{back to top}

In the news:

Reisdorf, Krista. "Making the grade: R & S Construction Services Inc. installs a roof system on Yale University's Lewis Walpole Library" Professional Roofing, (6/27/2008)

Branch, Mark Alden. "Yale's Country House Gets a Makeover." Yale Alumni Magazine, (January/February 2008)

Prochaska, Alice, and Margaret Powell. "The Lewis Walpole Library Reopens." Nota Bene, 22:2 (Fall 2007).

Goldberg, Ross. "Commission Approves Renovation Plans to Library After Month-long Deadlock." Yale Daily News, 11 April 2006.

Goldberg, Ross. "Univ. Presents Library Plans." Yale Daily News, 7 April 2006.

Seay, Gregory. "Walpole Library Project Advances." Hartford Courant, April 18, 2006, Connecticut section.

{back to top}