Construction of the brand new Woodridge Library is complete and the building opens to the public this week
The newest branch of the DC Public Library opens its doors to an eager public tomorrow, Wednesday, September 28th. Perched atop the northeast corner of Langdon Park, the Woodridge Library is a commanding addition to the revitalizing Rhode Island Avenue corridor. For those who frequented the old library building at the same location – 1801 Hamlin Street NE – the faces behind the desk and between the stacks will be familiar, but little else remains of the former building.
The $16.5 million dollar project was designed by Wiencek+Associates and Bing Thom Architects, and brought a decidedly modern aesthetic to a pocket of Washington, DC long known for its eclectic residential architectural styles. After a series of community meetings more than three years ago, during which public opinion resulted in modifications to some design elements, the final renderings were released in September 2013. A long demolition process and slow permitting meant that construction on the new library building did not actually begin until summer 2015. Now complete and ready to debut, the new building not only brings back the library (note: a temporary library was located just blocks away from the permanent location and served the neighborhood during the construction of the new branch building) but also provides community meeting space, study rooms, conference rooms, and light-filled work areas throughout.
Upon entering the building, one’s eye is immediately drawn to the floor-to-ceiling windows that line the wall opposite the main entrance. Low shelves mean an uninterrupted view anywhere along the main level. A community meeting room, with capacity for 100 people, can be accessed from the main floor of the library, but also has a separate entrance along Rhode Island Avenue/Hamlin Street. For after-hours meetings, a security gate can be closed to prevent access to the library in order to provide an extended schedule for community use.
The star of the main level is the children’s collection. With rows of books and a circular nook adorned with a color-changing light fixture overhead, library staff envision a hang-out space for families that spills outdoors onto the wide terrace overlooking Langdon Park. The furniture in the children’s section was deliberately chosen to provide soft and welcoming seating and table space to encourage young readers to linger. A dedicated family restroom with changing table is positioned within the children’s section as well.
As one transitions to the second level, the open stairway serves double-duty as a stadium-seating-type reading section, overlooking the children’s area. Ideal for parents whose children can autonomously explore books, this perch allows them to keep an eye on their children while giving them space. This stairway leads directly up to the young adult collection on the second floor. Purposefully separated from the younger readers, the young adult collection is a combination of graphic novels, books on emotional development, and other popular choices for the tween and teen set. A bank of computers for teen use (Macs, in this section) and a cozy reading space with a window for warmth and light complete this corner of the second floor.
A separate area for young adult readers offers seating, dedicated books, and Mac computers.
A popular addition to the new library building is a series of four dedicated study rooms. With sign-up on site, the rooms will be available to anyone needing a quiet space with a closed door to concentrate. The second floor librarian’s desk sits between the study rooms and another bank of computers – PCs – for adult use. The adult stacks line one wall along the second floor, while two larger conference rooms (each looks to hold up to 15 people) complete the space. A glance upstairs reveals a third floor awash in natural light, which filters down throughout the entire library building.
The third floor of the library gives patrons a bird’s-eye view of both the interior features and the exterior surroundings of the building. The interior tables and chairs are separated from the outdoors by floor-to-ceiling windows; the LEED-certified green roof cover and another outdoor terrace – with even more seating- complete the floor. The only building in the DCPL system with an accessible roof terrace, the views of Brookland, Woodridge, and Langdon are striking.
The public is invited to a Grand Opening Party at the library on Saturday, October 1st, to include bilingual storytime, building tours, live music, workshops, and more.