As part of its goal to make downtown Hyannis more accessible and visitor friendly, the Town of Barnstable embarked on a harbor improvement project to bring the Bismore Park area up-to-date while including some old-fashioned charm at the busy harbor facility park. The first phase of the project was the construction of a new $1 million Visitors Center, which houses the Harbor Master’s offices, comfort facilities, and a visitors’ information area. Funded by an urban self-help grant through the Town of Barnstable Growth Management Department, the new facility was designed to meet current code requirements for building construction in a coastal flood hazard area, while keeping a design that acknowledges New England’s rich maritime history.
The project site design program required sustainable design, which was difficult due to site constraints and a tight construction budget. Despite these challenges, the site design was able to incorporate a number of low impact development (LID) design features including: a roof run-off collection and recharge system; rain garden/bio retention; use of low water/drought-tolerant plant species; and minimal use of turf and pervious gravel pedestrian walkways. Structurally, the Visitors Center was elevated on timber piles, designed to meet FEMA requirements for coastal flood zone construction. The building is conventional wood-frame construction with double-sheathed walls to meet code-required high wind zone criteria.