Salem Athenaeum Salem, MA
The Salem Athenaeum is one of only a handful of membership libraries remaining in the United States. The firms goal was to bring adaptations for contemporary purposes and an updated mission for the 21st century into a tightly-organized existing structure on a small lot that does not lend itself easily to expansions.
The firmconducted a conditions report that led to a feasibility study demonstrated several plans to allow the Athenaeum to literally create space within its existing building by re-housing parts of the collection in compact storage and then strategically using the space freed up to introduce desperately needed new educational programs. Additional options included the incorporation of small additions that allow more effective use of existing large interior areas by shunting key elements like bathrooms to the sides. Another key element of these plans is to insert an elevator serving all the levels without disrupting the symmetry and balance of the plan, as well as an exterior lift that does not detract from the handsome appearance of the original facade. Finally, the study addressed current needs for climate control, archival spaces, general preservation, increased workspace and meeting areas, and issues of phasing and costing the work so that the Athenaeum can continue to function. This is an ongoing project that will have future phases of implementations.