DC Public Library system isn’t quite finished. A final big project included in the budget for the city’s rebuilding of existing libraries is a redo of the Woodridge Library, located on Rhode Island Avenue in Northeast DC. On Monday night, architects Bing Thom and Wienceck + Associates met with local residents to introduce the new plans, which showed a three-story building with a roof deck, windows overlooking nearby Langdon Park, and a potential adjoining café.
The meeting, held at the existing library, was crowded with roughly 50 residents, according to library spokesman George Williams. Many had submitted suggestions earlier in the year for what they’d like to see in a new facility: a business center that included a fax machine, up-to-date books, more sitting areas, and better computers, lighting and restrooms.
The designs incorporated some of those hopes. While the skin of the building isn’t visible in the drawings and 3-D models, the structure is clearly airy, open and organic. From the outside, the facility’s most notable feature is its broad roof, designed to glow at night. Internally, a series of balconies open the atmosphere, and a circular third story reading room looks out on a wide terrace largely shaded by the trellaced roof. Throughout the structure, southeastern walls are lined with windows to take advantage of the green hills of adjacent Langdon Park.
There are still lots of maybes on the table—like whether the facility will include that café, something residents throughout the city have clamored for in their libraries, but which doesn’t yet exist in any of the new structures. The architects would also like to close Hamlin Street, an east-west artery that runs just in front of the library, and create a public plaza instead. Williams said that library officials are discussing the issue with other government departments - and are also talking about how many parking spots can be accommodated on the site.
Library advocates and Rhode Island Avenue residents rejoiced when the architecture team was announced in April. Bing Thom, based in Canada, is responsible for the much-heralded renovated Arena Stage in Southwest, and the local Wienceck + Associates built the new Francis Gregory and Washington Highlands libraries. The Friends of Woodridge Library held a “meet and greet” to introduce Thom to the community in May, and Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper traveled to British Columbia earlier this month to examine a library designed by Thom there.
Demolition is scheduled to begin next summer. The new library is slated to open in 2015.
Correction: The library is a two-story structure. The original post described it as having only one story.
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