Bankrolled by bonds issued pre-meltdown, brand spanking new biblio buildings, studded with green-tech features and designed by rock star architects are springing up all over town. In a time when funding libraries has fallen into the chasm of economic crisis, DC is heading in a different direction. “We wanted the new libraries to be iconic,” says George Williams, DC Public Libraries.
Some of the branches are already open and the numbers are staggering: space for 80,000 books per building, 55,000 new library cards issued, and scores of public access computers. The cutting-edge designs are minted LEED Silver with flexible floor plans, recycled materials, fiber-optic speed and free WIFI. Let the reading begin.
Design by Adjaye Associates
Washington Highlands is designed by Adjaye Associates who has offices in London, Berlin and New York, they are also one of the masterminds behind the National Museum of African American History (NMAAHC). “For Washington Highlands we’re creating pavilions off the main buildings that function like porches,” says Austin Harris of Adjaye. This branch is all about multi-levels, vertical louvers to control the sun and engineered water-flow through the site.
The Francis A. Gregory branch is also designed by the international cats at Adjaye. “In these designs, we’re taking cues from the environment and trying to build something inspiring for the future,” says Harris. Francis Gregory has all that glass which is then delineated by diamond-cut interior wall units that will frame views to the outside. The building is protected from the sun by a canopy that appears to float above the building.
Designed by The Freelon Group
The Anacostia Public Library is designed by The Freelon Group, another major player in the NMAAHC who’s bringing some serious design chops to the D of C. “We’re fully engaged in modern architecture,” says Zena K. Howard of the Freelon Group “when we began presenting forward-looking design concepts in Washington, nobody shied away, instead they said, ‘yes, bring it.’” Bringing it to Anacostia meant building around three giant oak trees that now shade the building. There’s also a bio-retention pond on site to slow the flow of rain into the river.
The new Tenly Friendship Heights Library is also designed by Freelon who’s straight out of North Carolina’s RTP, (Research Triangle Park), and turning up the volume in the Heights. Fine tuning in Tenley meant custom fins on the windows to control the sun, beefing up the back end of the building to allow for future mixed-use additions and solar thermal heat on the roof.
Design by Davis Brody Bond Aedas
The new library at Benning Road is designed by Davis Brody Bond Aedas who is in DC, New York, Seattle and Sao Paulo. They took a special interest in a town that has seen major change in the past few years. “I have seen Washington transform itself, changing the lifestyle of the people who live here and becoming a much more cosmopolitan place,” says Peter Cook, principal at the DC office. Benning features a green roof and 32 copper panels that are used to control the sun while providing a warm glow in the evening.
The Waltha T. Daniel-Shaw branch is also designed by Davis Brody Bond Aedas, some heavy hitters with more projects than you can shake a laser pointer at. The new building in Shaw also sports a green roof to keep things cool and to control rain water runoff. The triangular site was made to work to the designers advantage as they took things to a third level while a distinctive aluminum shade wall helps keep things way cool.
This feature originally appeared in
DC Modern Luxury Magazine