NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – Detailed designs for the new building, which is part of the county’s “Project Grace” redevelopment project, have been completed and were presented to the NHC Commission meeting Monday evening.
The goal of the architects, LS3P, was to incorporate elements of local history into the design and combine them with modern, functional touches.
“We want this project to feel like it belongs in downtown Wilmington,” said lead architect Chris Boney.
He said that they wanted to celebrate the ballast stone walls, brick and terracotta, ship building, gathering places, and to bring in the poetic qualities of paper via translucency and light.
“There’s a rooftop terrace that will involve lots of programming for the museum and the library, there will be a large public gathering place at the front door that will be able to house school children coming in, getting ready to visit the museum and the library. There are private meeting terraces within the library that will open to outside so the citizens can take advantage of our wonderful climate here,” Boney said.
According to a news release from New Hanover County, the plans will ensure there is something for everyone.
As outlined in the floor plans, the library will continue to provide adult services, children services, and local history services, and will be adding enhanced teen and tween services to ensure all citizens have a place to learn and grow. It will also have two outdoor reading terraces, one dedicated specifically to children on the first floor and one dedicated to adults on the second floor, and incorporate natural light throughout to ensure it is a welcoming and open space.
The museum experience will be greatly enhanced with a planetarium/immersive theater, gallery for Cape Fear Stories, health and nutrition gallery, Science Matters gallery, outdoor exhibit space, and changing gallery to accommodate a wider range of traveling exhibits. There will also be plenty of outdoor space dedicated to the museum and for community celebrations and meetings. The building will also have shared multi-purpose space that the library and museum can both use for additional programming opportunities.
“Project grace will be, and should be a repository of our collective history, a forum for future generations, to learn and to grow and a gathering place for all citizens,” Boney said.
The next phase includes the development team working with a structural engineer for the downtown building, along with a landscape architect and exhibit designer for the museum, a process that is expected to last through January.
As for financing, the county is still working with numbers, but anticipates “being able to take this before the local government commission around the January timeframe,” according to Jennifer Rigby, New Hanover County’s Chief Strategy Officer.
While the design development phase continues, New Hanover County is seeking ideas from the public as to what the new building should be named. “This will be an opportunity for our community to come together and put a name on what this new museum and new library will be, this new cultural anchor for downtown,” Rigby said.
Suggestions can be submitted here through Monday, October 18.
As for the private sector of the block, Adam Tucker with Zimmer Development said several ideas are being considered. “The mixes have not been determined just yet. We do know that we will have a multi-family component with a workforce housing piece.”
Tucker also added that they have looked at various hospitality and retail options, but nothing is set in stone yet. “We continue to advance the private side and hopefully will have more information on that in the next month or so,” Tucker said.
If everything goes as planned over the next few months, the development team hopes to break ground on the project next summer.
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