Stonington Historical Society
project name : Stonington Historical Society Archive Building
location : Stonington, Connecticut
year of design: 1995
client: Stonington Historical Society
architect: George Ranalli
associates: Robert Silman Structural Engineer
design team: John Butterworth, Nathaniel Worden, Todd Stodolski
photographer: Model Photos: George Ranalli
This project is a 3,400 square foot addition to the existing Captain Palmer House in Stonington, Connecticut. The original structure, designated a National Historic Landmark, is an impressive period building. The addition is to contain an archive of books, letters, papers, art works, and objects from the collection of the Palmer estate. Additional material from the Town of Stonington is also to be incorporated in the archive collection.
The new building forms a small courtyard with the Palmer Mansion and the ice house to make an enclave within these disparate buildings. The new structure forms the west and north sides of the courtyard, with the two existing buildings on the south and east. It is entered from a path leading to landscape, stairs, and parking. Through the court, the front entry of the new building leads to a large entry hall. The archive is arrayed back from here, with a connecting corridor opening onto the court. At the end of this sequence is the round reading room and rectangular seminar room. Additional archive space is contained in an adjacent volume to the east.
Each space is lit by a series of windows and roof monitors. These elements help to define the space as well as admitting a special quality of light. Rooms are designed both for their use and the experience of the space; materials are selected for their ability to produce a desirable and unique atmosphere for each room. In the archive, the storage elements are designed as glass and wood cabinets, while the middle storage element comprises flat files, storage bins, and display cases.
The new building sits on a stone base on top of which sits a wood wall. The openings in the wall are designed to be a combination of window and door. The roof and all decorative elements are designed in copper. The new building asserts a strong spatial relationship with the existing buildings to form a new complex. This building is also designed to be an autonomous building with its own identity. The result is a unique blending of old and new to make a cohesive and distinctive complex.