Contract - Reading the Future: A community library by Davis Brody Bond Aedas in Washington, D.C, sets a 21st-century tone

design - features - institutional design



Reading the Future: A community library by Davis Brody Bond Aedas in Washington, D.C, sets a 21st-century tone

21 June, 2010

-By Jean Nayar



Just as the publishing industry is undergoing a metamorphosis— thanks to the Internet and the exploding forms of electronic media—libraries are changing, too, partly to accommodate the new media, but also to adapt to cultural shifts in the way information is absorbed and shared. Benning Library in Washington, D.C., designed by Davis Brody Bond Aedas, provides a blueprint for the new 21st-century public community library. It also promises to serve as a cornerstone and model for a series of library renovations and building projects scheduled to take place throughout the District over the next five years.

The first new library facility completed under an ambitious citywide library building program initiated by Ginnie Cooper, the chief librarian and executive director of D.C.’s public library system, the Benning Library is located on a sloped site along Benning Road in an underserved area of northeast Washington, D.C., near a commercial shopping area in the same location that the community’s previous 50-year-old library had once stood.

The old library was an underused, outdated structure designed to accommodate traditional library functions and was disconnected from the community, both literally and figuratively, according to Peter Cook, principal of Davis Brody Bond Aedas’s Washington, D.C., office. “It faced Benning Road, which is a commuter thoroughfare without a lot of pedestrian traffic,” he says. “When Max Bond and I visited the site before we began the design of the new library, we discovered that the parking area adjacent to the shopping mall actually was the lifeblood of the community, the place where people mixed and chatted, the place where there was excitement and energy.” (Firm partner Max Bond was instrumental in shaping the design of the new library before he died in February 2009.)

With no entrance to the old library on the side of the building that faced the parking lot, there was no real connection between the library and the community’s vital center. The architects realized that to be successful, the new library had to engage the community at its heart.
The new $12 million, two-story, 22,000-sq.-ft. library establishes that essential link to the community. It does so with what Cook refers to as “two front doors connected by a generous staircase.” This axis, which stretches from one front door facing Benning Road through the building and down the staircase to the other front door facing the parking lot, is just one of the design features that engages the community. Other user-friendly building characteristics include expansive south-facing windows that let in lots of natural light and create a sense of transparency, north-facing clerestory windows with views to the park north of Benning Road, and a series of small and large public gathering and meeting spaces.

“To Ginnie Cooper’s credit, we were encouraged to push the envelope on what a public library could be,” says Cook, noting that traditional libraries often were reminiscent of bank buildings—massive, small-windowed, foreboding structures set back from the street. “One of the primary limitations in old library buildings is electricity,” says Cooper, who has overseen the renovation and construction of numerous library buildings throughout the country. “With so many people bringing in laptops and using WiFi these days, there aren’t enough outlets in old buildings to plug them in and not enough electricity to power them. We developed a standards program that not only will accommodate print on paper, which is still a large part of what the buildings must house, but also will be flexible enough to support new technologies, be energy-efficient, and be places of pride for the communities going forward.”

Two-thirds of the Benning Library was dedicated to spaces that house traditional library functions, which were interpreted by the architects in a contemporary way. The entire top floor of the structure contains an information desk; adult, young adult, and children’s reading areas and book stacks; as well as tutoring rooms and self-service checkout areas. The other third of the building houses nontraditional library spaces, including two 10-person conference rooms, a 100-seat meeting room, and staff lounges.

In accordance with a District mandate requiring that all facilities constructed with public funding be built to meet LEED Silver standards, the new library also incorporates a conscientious mix of green building materials and techniques. Recycled materials are used throughout, and floor-to-ceiling glazing on the south façade permits the building to be illuminated with natural daylight that is fully controlled with sections of fritted glass and integrated shading. Artificial lighting is sensor-controlled to reduce energy consumption. Copper siding along the upper level and glazing along the lower level of the west façade aids in managing hard-to-control westerly daylight. And an eco-friendly green roof links the building with the surrounding landscape and improves the quality and quantity of storm water run-off.

“A thousand new library cards have been issued since the library opened [in April], and the book borrowing rate in the first month was equal to three months of borrowing in the previous space,” says Cooper. “We take great pleasure in knowing that these talented architects have applied their high standards of quality in designing a fine building for this community. It’s a community that really needs a good library, and the people love it.”

who
Owner: DC Public Library. Architect: Davis Brody Bond Aedas; Peter D. Cook, AIA, principal; J. Max Bond, Jr., FAIA, (former) partner; Christiane DeJong, LEED AP, project manager/project architect; Charlie Salinas, project designer; Nathan Hoyt, FAIA, director of interiors; Jeffrey Harrigan, Cody McNeal, LEED AP, Andrew McGee. Contractor: Forrester Construction. Lighting: MCLA. Engineering: Delon Hampton and Associates, Chartered (structural/civil); Professional Consulting Corporation (geotechnical); JVP Engineers (mechanical). Landscape Architects: Lee and Associates. Furniture Management: Fahrenheit. Cost Estimator: S.C. Meyers & Associates. A/V, security, IT: Polysonics. Elevator: Williams-Huntt & Associates. Community Outreach: Circle Point. Owner’s Representative: A-1 Construction. Photographer: Paúl Rivera/archphoto.

what
Wallcoverings: Armstrong Acoustic wall panels wrapped in Knoll fabric. Paint: Sherwin-Williams. Dry wall: Lafarge. Flooring: Armstrong. Carpet/carpet tile: Mohawk, Lees. Ceiling: Chicago Metallic. Lighting: Lithonia, Visionaire, Forum, Lumenton, Pathway, Louis Poulsen, Liton, Metalumen, Creative Illuminations, Birchwood. Doors: Michbi. Glass: J.E. Berkowitz. Workstations: custom millwork with Icestone countertops, Panelite modesty panels, and laminate maple. Workstation, lounge, cafeteria, dining, auditorium seating, other tables: Herman Miller. Children’s area seating: Vitra. Conference, cafeteria, dining, training tables: KI. Shelving: Spacesaver. Architectural woodworking: solid and laminate maple. Site furniture: Landscape Forms. Signage: custom by Anderson Krygier. Bath fixtures: Toto, Sloan, Kohler, Lustertone, Chicago Faucets, American Standard, Florestone.

where
Location: Washington, DC. Total floor area: 22,000 sq. ft. No. of floors: 2.




Reading the Future: A community library by Davis Brody Bond Aedas in Washington, D.C, sets a 21st-century tone

21 June, 2010


Paúl Rivera/archphoto

Just as the publishing industry is undergoing a metamorphosis— thanks to the Internet and the exploding forms of electronic media—libraries are changing, too, partly to accommodate the new media, but also to adapt to cultural shifts in the way information is absorbed and shared. Benning Library in Washington, D.C., designed by Davis Brody Bond Aedas, provides a blueprint for the new 21st-century public community library. It also promises to serve as a cornerstone and model for a series of library renovations and building projects scheduled to take place throughout the District over the next five years.

The first new library facility completed under an ambitious citywide library building program initiated by Ginnie Cooper, the chief librarian and executive director of D.C.’s public library system, the Benning Library is located on a sloped site along Benning Road in an underserved area of northeast Washington, D.C., near a commercial shopping area in the same location that the community’s previous 50-year-old library had once stood.

The old library was an underused, outdated structure designed to accommodate traditional library functions and was disconnected from the community, both literally and figuratively, according to Peter Cook, principal of Davis Brody Bond Aedas’s Washington, D.C., office. “It faced Benning Road, which is a commuter thoroughfare without a lot of pedestrian traffic,” he says. “When Max Bond and I visited the site before we began the design of the new library, we discovered that the parking area adjacent to the shopping mall actually was the lifeblood of the community, the place where people mixed and chatted, the place where there was excitement and energy.” (Firm partner Max Bond was instrumental in shaping the design of the new library before he died in February 2009.)

With no entrance to the old library on the side of the building that faced the parking lot, there was no real connection between the library and the community’s vital center. The architects realized that to be successful, the new library had to engage the community at its heart.
The new $12 million, two-story, 22,000-sq.-ft. library establishes that essential link to the community. It does so with what Cook refers to as “two front doors connected by a generous staircase.” This axis, which stretches from one front door facing Benning Road through the building and down the staircase to the other front door facing the parking lot, is just one of the design features that engages the community. Other user-friendly building characteristics include expansive south-facing windows that let in lots of natural light and create a sense of transparency, north-facing clerestory windows with views to the park north of Benning Road, and a series of small and large public gathering and meeting spaces.

“To Ginnie Cooper’s credit, we were encouraged to push the envelope on what a public library could be,” says Cook, noting that traditional libraries often were reminiscent of bank buildings—massive, small-windowed, foreboding structures set back from the street. “One of the primary limitations in old library buildings is electricity,” says Cooper, who has overseen the renovation and construction of numerous library buildings throughout the country. “With so many people bringing in laptops and using WiFi these days, there aren’t enough outlets in old buildings to plug them in and not enough electricity to power them. We developed a standards program that not only will accommodate print on paper, which is still a large part of what the buildings must house, but also will be flexible enough to support new technologies, be energy-efficient, and be places of pride for the communities going forward.”

Two-thirds of the Benning Library was dedicated to spaces that house traditional library functions, which were interpreted by the architects in a contemporary way. The entire top floor of the structure contains an information desk; adult, young adult, and children’s reading areas and book stacks; as well as tutoring rooms and self-service checkout areas. The other third of the building houses nontraditional library spaces, including two 10-person conference rooms, a 100-seat meeting room, and staff lounges.

In accordance with a District mandate requiring that all facilities constructed with public funding be built to meet LEED Silver standards, the new library also incorporates a conscientious mix of green building materials and techniques. Recycled materials are used throughout, and floor-to-ceiling glazing on the south façade permits the building to be illuminated with natural daylight that is fully controlled with sections of fritted glass and integrated shading. Artificial lighting is sensor-controlled to reduce energy consumption. Copper siding along the upper level and glazing along the lower level of the west façade aids in managing hard-to-control westerly daylight. And an eco-friendly green roof links the building with the surrounding landscape and improves the quality and quantity of storm water run-off.

“A thousand new library cards have been issued since the library opened [in April], and the book borrowing rate in the first month was equal to three months of borrowing in the previous space,” says Cooper. “We take great pleasure in knowing that these talented architects have applied their high standards of quality in designing a fine building for this community. It’s a community that really needs a good library, and the people love it.”

who
Owner: DC Public Library. Architect: Davis Brody Bond Aedas; Peter D. Cook, AIA, principal; J. Max Bond, Jr., FAIA, (former) partner; Christiane DeJong, LEED AP, project manager/project architect; Charlie Salinas, project designer; Nathan Hoyt, FAIA, director of interiors; Jeffrey Harrigan, Cody McNeal, LEED AP, Andrew McGee. Contractor: Forrester Construction. Lighting: MCLA. Engineering: Delon Hampton and Associates, Chartered (structural/civil); Professional Consulting Corporation (geotechnical); JVP Engineers (mechanical). Landscape Architects: Lee and Associates. Furniture Management: Fahrenheit. Cost Estimator: S.C. Meyers & Associates. A/V, security, IT: Polysonics. Elevator: Williams-Huntt & Associates. Community Outreach: Circle Point. Owner’s Representative: A-1 Construction. Photographer: Paúl Rivera/archphoto.

what
Wallcoverings: Armstrong Acoustic wall panels wrapped in Knoll fabric. Paint: Sherwin-Williams. Dry wall: Lafarge. Flooring: Armstrong. Carpet/carpet tile: Mohawk, Lees. Ceiling: Chicago Metallic. Lighting: Lithonia, Visionaire, Forum, Lumenton, Pathway, Louis Poulsen, Liton, Metalumen, Creative Illuminations, Birchwood. Doors: Michbi. Glass: J.E. Berkowitz. Workstations: custom millwork with Icestone countertops, Panelite modesty panels, and laminate maple. Workstation, lounge, cafeteria, dining, auditorium seating, other tables: Herman Miller. Children’s area seating: Vitra. Conference, cafeteria, dining, training tables: KI. Shelving: Spacesaver. Architectural woodworking: solid and laminate maple. Site furniture: Landscape Forms. Signage: custom by Anderson Krygier. Bath fixtures: Toto, Sloan, Kohler, Lustertone, Chicago Faucets, American Standard, Florestone.

where
Location: Washington, DC. Total floor area: 22,000 sq. ft. No. of floors: 2.

 


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