Three years after it was initially scheduled for completion, work is finally underway on the long awaited Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library. And the fact that excavation is now bristling along at the Rhode Island Avenue, NW site, courtesy of Forrester Construction, isn’t the only piece of good news for Shaw bibliophiles. Officials at DC Public Libraries (DCPL) now tell DCmud that some features originally envisioned for the new library –but that had to be shelved following drastic budget cuts in 2008 – could be restored, courtesy of an application for $282,000 worth of federal stimulus funds that is currently pending with the District Department of the Environment.
"[In] the initial design, we hoped to have a vegetative green roof on the library,” said DCPL spokesman George Williams. “From the conceptual design to putting together how much it would cost to actually build the library, the vegetative green roof was a feature that initially we could not afford. With the availability of stimulus funds, we thought it would be a great opportunity to put the roof back on…It was something that the library wanted and that the community around the library wanted as well.”
Moreover, the community has been wanting any sign of progress on the new 20,000 square foot, LEED-certified, Davis Brody Bond-designed library since its’ predecessor closed in 2004. Though the project formally broke ground this past November, work at the site has only recently geared up – a slow pace, even by DC standards. Nonetheless, DCPL pledges that not only were the delays warranted, but that they’ve also found a means to keep the public updated on progress at the site.
“[We were] making sure that we had all the appropriate permits, approvals and traffic plans taken care of…I don’t believe that our end time changed and we’re looking at scheduling the new library to open in spring 2010,” said Williams. "We are now doing excavation and foundation work. There are roughly nine milestones [during construction] and we are now on the third…We’re going to put signs up that track what those milestones are as we reach them.”
According to DCPL, the milestones they have to achieve are, in ascending order, steel work, building exterior, interior construction, interior finishes and finally move-in. The agency is putting the building’s penultimate stage of development up for public debate and will hold sessions to “check out the interior finishes and furniture choices” at the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Interim Library on June 15th from 12:00-1:00 pm, June 16th from 5:30-6:30 pm, June 17th 12:00-1:00 pm and June 18 from 5:30-6:30 pm.