Virginia Library a Challenge Even for New Haven-Based Architect

By Turmelle, Luther | New Haven Register (New Haven, CT), January 9, 2015 | Go to article overview

Virginia Library a Challenge Even for New Haven-Based Architect


Turmelle, Luther, New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)


When the Slover Library in Norfolk, Virginia, opens Friday, it will mark the end of a journey that began 4 1/2 years ago for New Haven-based Newman Architects, which designed the new, $65 million facility.

Creating the new 138,000-square-foot complex was a challenge, even for an firm with the kind of portfolio that Newman has, which includes doing work on Union Station in New Haven, Duracell's world headquarters in Bethel, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The challenge that creating the new Slover Library presented for the firm was blending the old -- restoring the 115-year-old Seaboard building, a former customs house that became home to Norfolk's main library in 2009, and renovating an adjacent commercial building -- with a new addition, said Herbert Newman, who founded the firm and is one of its principals.

"We spent two years on the design and two years on the construction," Newman said Thursday. "That not really a lot of time with a project of this complex scope."

The new portion of the library is a seven-story, glass-walled addition.

Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim said in a statement that Newman Architects' design "melds three generations of architectural styles into one beautifully appointed building."

"Not only will Slover engage and delight the public, but it represents Norfolk's history as well as its future."

Some of the issues the firm had to address were practical, including making sure the floors of the new building were at the same level as those of the older structure so that someone walking from one part of the library would experience a seamless transition, he said. …

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