Location: Lapeer, Michigan
“Follow the wall far enough and there will be a door in it.” This is the advice of Brother Luke in the novel The Door in the Wall by Lapeer’s most beloved author, Marguerite deAngeli. This Michigan-born Newbery medalist is the namesake of Lapeer District Library’s main branch.
When it opened in 1923, the deAngeli facility was more than sufficient for a standard collection. Today, the historic yet landlocked building lacks space and technology to meet community needs. For the design team, paying homage to deAngeli in the replacement facility was the paramount challenge prompting their innovative approach.
The Door in the Wallinspired this future building’s real stone veneer, which will form a curved wall reminiscent of a castle, while the entry vestibule—the door—punches through. Adding another layer of significance to the materials is the city’s name. “Lapeer” finds its etymology in the French la pierre, meaning “rock.”
Standing eight to twenty feet high, the building’s perimeter base will consist of dark brick to match the stone. Above, vertical metal panels will extend the theme, playing with different widths and shades of soft gray. Along corners, wood siding will meld the building naturally into the site’s abundant trees. In contrast, tall windows will balance the solid materials and open the interior to the outdoors.
Illuminated by soft daylight through frosted panels along the raised roof, a central marketplace will house the circulation desk, audio/visual collection, and new materials. Nearby, a history room will display the deAngeli manuscripts. Awnings on the east, south, and west facades will reduce glaring light on bright days.
Construction on the new, adequately sized space is expected to begin in 2021 and end in 2022—one century after the deAngeli branch first opened.