The gabled east end of the new 50,000 gross square feet visitor/ education center echoes the gabled end of the library, forming an entry court and stone paved public square at the entrance to the historic site. Renovations to the historic library provide a new gallery and elevator for installation of temporary exhibitions. The exposed wood structure of the building was detailed so that the connections are unobtrusive. Composed of a series of pavilions framing a courtyard oriented toward the library, the structure is exposed wood-framed gable roofed pavilions enclosing public spaces while fieldstone walls on CMU backup enclose the service and office spaces. The building’s exposed structure consists of paired wood members bolted to steel plates. These plates are sandwiched between the wood members as strength and connection details require.
The project was designed to achieve a LEED Certification for sustainability and environmental compatibility. All structural lumber is from either a salvaged source or harvested from Certified Well-Managed Forests. Both exposed wood roof decking and acoustical metal decking are used. The structural concrete used in the foundation contains recycled fly ash, a by-product of power generating stations. The visitors center provides space for visitor orientation to the presidential library, home site, Valkill and Top Cottage, as well as an education and conference center for the library and the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute. The principal public spaces include an orientation lobby, auditorium, gift shop, and café. The education and conference center portion of the building includes three multipurpose rooms with movable partitions. A multi-media conference room with satellite uplink capabilities for broadcasting is linked to the auditorium and multipurpose room.