Thursday, August 30, 2012

Plans Presented for a New Woodridge Library

Despite its intense building spree over the past couple of years, the 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.

The presentation was largely well received by residents, who are by all accounts eager to see their library transform like so many others in the city. The only library within miles, the Woodridge facility is a squat, two-story brick structure built in 1958 that encompasses about 19,500 square feet. The new structure, which is fully funded at $16.5 million, would be approximately 22,500 s.f.

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.

Washington D.C. real estate development news


Anonymous said...

Is every new library designed to make you feel like an alien?

Anonymous said...

Looks very elegant. I think all of the new DC branch libraries are fantastic!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful place for bums to masturbate!

Skidrowe said...

At this point, the renderings seem more aspirational than anything -- but I like the aspiration, indeed it's the Road Less Taken that projects have aspirations. And both of the architects have a good track record making ideas real.

As for the masturbating bums comment, this is exactly why these new libraries are necessary! The old ones, dingy, dark, shabby, and compartmentalized, alienate the public; homeless gravitate to the void. The new ones (including renovations/restorations) are attracting a broad range of people from their communities.

John H said...

I'd rather skip the expense of accomplishing some starchitect's vision of a light-filled void and spend it on contents of a smaller space crowded with books, computer terminals and small seminar rooms.

Anonymous said...

Well I'm glad that you don't work at a library. I think the new libraries are great.

Anonymous said...

Why are there no solar panels on the roof? They can help light the top. I just can't see how this project can cost $16.5 Million. The plaza will be used for skate boarding.

IMGoph on Aug 31, 2012, 10:10:00 AM said...

amanda: It would be nice if you could make a correction in this article. The Woodridge library is not a one-story building. There are two stories above ground, and a full basement that has meeting rooms, restrooms, and storage.

Anonymous said...

Why is this library so far from the many charter schools located in Brookland? It just seems like it would be better served if it were near the many schools in Brookland. Why not put the library on the empty field across from Noyes Elem School. It just seems like where it is now it will attract the same homeless population that the park it sits next to does.

IMGoph on Aug 31, 2012, 10:49:00 AM said...

Anonymous: The school has been located here for over 50 years. While this is not close to certain schools you have pointed out, it is close to other schools. It would be great to have more libraries in Ward 5, but I don't see additional locations being built anytime soon.

Amanda Abrams on Aug 31, 2012, 11:41:00 AM said...

IMGoph, thanks for the correction. I changed it and added a small note.

Anonymous said...

The park is also scheduled to be upgraded also the field next to Noyes Elementary is too small to put a library there hopefully the City will include a cafe as part of the Woodrige Libray so it it will help the library to serve as a community center it is also designed to help push development of Rhode Island Ave which used to be a thriving street in the Woodridge Community
I am a native Washington who grew up in Woodrige and support the revitalization of this Woodrige main street
Brookland's revitalization is being helped by Menikiti, Abdo ,Catholic university & the owner of Col Brooks

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