I. M. Pei and Partners, 1977–1979
Landscape design: Kiley, Tyndall, Walker with Mrs. Paul Mellon
Exhibit design: Chermayeff and Geismar Associates
Stephen E. Smith Center, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, 1991
After ten years of controversy and consideration of eight different sites, this dramatic site on Columbia Point overlooking open sea was chosen for the Kennedy Library. The simple forms of a nine-story white pyramid connected to the two-story cylinder by a parallelogram and the gray glass form of the 110-foot-high Presidential Pavilion make a strong symbolic statement. The visitor is led from the reception lobby overlooking the glass pavilion to an exhibition lobby and two auditoriums seating 300 people each. Leaving the auditoriums, visitors descend to the lower-level exhibition area and finally enter the large glass space frame with its expansive view of the bay.
A 1991 addition, the Smith Center, provided a large function room, classroom, and archives. Kennedy’s sailboat, Victura, is displayed on the granite Bay Plaza. The point is planted with flora associated with Cape Cod: pines, dune grass, bayberry, and rugosa roses.