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Ashby Public Library

Ashby, Massachusetts
12,000 SF

The scope of the Ashby Free Public Library project involved expanding a century old library building with an 8,000 SF modern addition to meet the growing community’s needs.  However, it was soon discovered that land expressly purchased for this addition was vegetative wetlands subject to significant regulatory limits. Therefore, our approach was to work with the naturally sloping landform and allow the building to cantilever above the ground, a move which allowed the building to conform to regulations and have less impact on the wetland property.


Colonial houses, all with formal entrance on Main Street, surround the existing building, each with a barn attached to its rear.  Thus, while the formal front of the library was respected for its historical significance, the addition to the rear was conceived of and interpreted as an attached, south facing barn. 

The orientation of the glazed southern façade leads to passive solar heating, while also providing expansive views of the verdant landscape beyond – views made accessible to the reading rooms located adjacent to these glass walls on both floors.  The lower level serves as children’s library, while the upper is for adults.


Finally, not only did the wetlands and neighborhood influence the building, but so too did multiple grant funds which required inventive planning.  If any one of the grant applications had been unsuccessful, a specific volume of the building plan would have been deleted. Careful attention led to success on all levels; grant application through project implementation.

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