Bringing new life to our library – Annmarie Adams, architectural historian

Submitted by Pettes Memorial Library

As an architectural historian, a longtime Knowlton resident, and a member of the board of Trustees of the Pettes Library, Annmarie Adams is excited about the expansion project which, in her words “will bring new life to our library’’. The preliminary plans submitted by the architectural firm Chevalier Morales “pay homage to the Victorian building. Because its silhouette is so discreet it acts as a counterpoint to the outstanding features of the Victorian building. It will bring a whole new perspective to our library.” 

Throughout the construction project scheduled to start in the Spring of 2022, Adams, who is a Professor and former Director of McGill University’s School of Architecture, will act as historic buildings since I was a liaison between the architects and the Board of Trustees. “I’ve been interested in additions to historic buildings since I was a student,” says Adams. After winning an award from the University of California at Berkeley in 1985, she travelled for a year to document the architectural detail where old and the new materials meet in additions to historic buildings. “Ideally, an addition should enhance a heritage building, require minimal change or demolition, and be true to its own time period. A good addition never pretends to be from an earlier time period, but rather pays its respects in other ways such as proportion, scale, materials, and orientation. We don’t dress as Victorians or produce Victorian music,’’ adds Adams. “We’re not Victorian, we can’t replicate 1894 construction. What we design now is produced differently. It is more honest to build in the mode of today.’’

Coventry Cathedral and the Louvre Pyramid

Amongst her favourite projects, Adams points to the reconstruction of Coventry Cathedral, which was bombed during World War II. “The bold, modern building that emerged from the ruins of the original one is breathtaking’’ she says. She also admires the Pyramid at the Louvre in Paris. It dramatically changed the perspective on the grandest museum in the world. “In both cases,” says Adams, “these contemporary additions have brought new life to historic buildings.’’

Pettes Library is a landmark in the heart of our village.Monumental, picturesque, constructed of expensive materials like brick and marble, it represents an era of philanthropy, memorialization and proud civic improvement. Its expansion will be a potent reminder of the role history plays in shaping the future of our community.