Project Grace

Wilmington, NC

New Hanover County embarked on a visionary endeavor to address the challenges posed by aging structures housing two vital cultural institutions. After careful consideration, the County strategically decided to combine the two into one new building, capitalizing on the opportunity for shared space and efficiency of operations. This new building, called Project Grace, will provide modern, purpose-built, state-of-the-art space for both Cape Fear Museum and New Hanover County Library.

Embracing the rich history of downtown Wilmington, NC, Project Grace stands as a testament to blending heritage with innovation. Crafted from enduring materials like brick and ballast stone, the design pays homage to the city’s past while embracing the future through cutting-edge features such as high-efficiency glazing and an expansive roof canopy made of photovoltaic panels. Within this cultural hub, the Cape Fear Museum unveils a captivating array of attractions, including a state-of-the-art planetarium, versatile galleries, inviting outdoor exhibit terraces, and administrative offices. The museum’s iconic giant sloth skeleton will be a focal point of the building with a large window framing the view from the public plaza. Meanwhile, the New Hanover County Library boasts a dynamic space tailored for diverse needs, housing everything from the children’s collection and program/activity space, teen social area, adult collection, local history room, meeting rooms, archive storage, and administrative offices. Expansive north-facing glazing provides ample natural light and invites passersby to partake in its vibrant array of activities. Together, these entities converge within a shared multi-purpose room, adaptable to myriad configurations, while essential back-of-house amenities such as a loading dock, service elevator, and staff break room ensure seamless operations.

Project Grace serves as a cultural cornerstone of a visionary public-private partnership, poised to catalyze the rejuvenation of the surrounding city block with a blend of civic and private developments.