New and Renovated Library Renderings


A reader sent this renderings from a few libraries around town. I’m sorry there are so small but that was the largest size I could get. Above is what the Petworth Library is proposed to look like after extensive renovations. The project is slated to be completed in Fall 2009, though that seems highly ambitious. The libraries below are supposed to be open to the public by Spring 2010. Which one do you like best?

Here is what Shaw’s is supposed to look like:






and Benning:


26 Comment

  • I’m thinking why are we wasting money on exquisite library projects when most of the information held in these places is available online. O taxes…

  • Anon- you might not use libraries, but plenty of people do, especially in a recession. Why is everyone so damn cynical? This is something we should be collectively applauding.

  • O Anonymous…Most of the people I’m looking at right now are online because of the library. There is also a guy with a newspaper and another one with a handful of ESL materials. Someone else has picked up a flier for the April craft projects for teens and bi-weekly English conversation groups.

  • Anon is right – most of this info is available online – smh … million book project, people

  • A) Yes, there are a lot of small chunks of information available online and stuff you used to go to a library for can now be easily looked up on Wikipedia or GoogleMaps or whatever. The kind of stuff in encyclopedias, atlases, and other such static refence books (which, by the way, are rapidly getting ditched by many public libraries). However, no, “most of the information” in libraries is not freely available online. For example, you will not find many complete books of the type you would find in a public library available. You might find chunks of text, but not entire works. At least not easily and legally. And forget about children’s picture books.

    B) Public libraries are much more than mere warehouses of books. They offer a host of added value services that generally aren’t used by the wealthy, but are heavily used by the middle and lower classes. Examples include children’s storytimes, sign language classes, computer classes, cultural programming, after-school programs for teens, job-search workshops, tax prep help, and on and on and on. Let’s not forget about subscription-only databases, downloadable audiobooks, free test prep software, etc.

    C) If you haven’t stepped into a library lately you might not know that they also provide online access to the many many people of our city who can’t afford a computer and/or internet access. So all that info you believe is freely available online isn’t actually available if you don’t have a computer or internet service. Heard of something called the digital divide? Look that up online. Just ’cause _you_ don’t need the library doesn’t mean that everyone doesn’t.

  • thank you KnowYourRights

  • Libraries are definitely worth it!
    Regarding the designs though, I much prefer the Petworth branch (and the Mount Pleasant branch, not pictured) compared to the soulless modernist forms of the other branches.

  • Million Book Project? Really? That’s your substitute for a public library? First of all, the MBP is geared toward an academic/research audience, not the general public, so there’s no real point to comparing the two.

    Secondly, of the MBP’s 1.5 million books scanned to date, roughly 360k are in English (970k are in Chinese). And of those 360k, 95% are out of print titles in the public domain – generally not stuff you’re going to find in a public library other than the small “classics” section. There are plans to add copyrighted material, mainly from places like National Academy Press and some other scholarly presses. But none of this is the kind of stuff you’re likely to find in a public library anyway!

    So yeah, if you want to research agricultural trends in Eastern Uzbekistan, MBP may well be your go-to source. But you’re not going to be finding the latest NYT bestseller or Booker Prize winner, or whatever there.

  • And when I wrote “April craft projects” I of course meant “May”…

  • If you dig a little deeper on the library’s website, you can find very large scale versions of the renderings, including interiors.

    For example, try this link and then click on one of the images:

  • library haters suck, especially stupid ones…. i will second knowyourrights as they have hit the nail on the head.

    plus, petworth has some nationally acclaimed librarian all stars, chlibrarian being one of them 🙂 read their accolades Link text

  • smh – lets all just stick our heads in the sand and pretend that books aren’t navigating to the internet — ugh yuk — im finished with this thread — feel free to continue the flame war

  • What flame war? We’re just saying we think libraries are valuable for the community, and you disagree.

  • These things look like they were designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Do excessive amounts of taxpayer’s dollars need to go to these venues, when you could have a library with 50 computer terminals and little/no books (look at ACORN’s selection from arlington’s public library), in a much smaller (and more eco-friendly space–for all the greenies out there), with the same effectiveness. Wouldn’t that help close the digital divide (by promoting computer literacy)?

  • Nice move Dee Montgomerry Pennyworth, declare that a non-existant flamewar is going on to hide your retreat. The term “flame” involves hostile intent in the exchange of messages. I’m not hostile to your position, I just don’t agree with some of your assertions, that doesn’t make it a “flame” and it’s intellectually cowardly to suggest otherwise. Makes me wonder if you’re an ex-Bush administration official.

    Moving on to the actual substance:

    A) Actually, I do think a lot of kinds of books (and other printed) are moving digital (note, I didn’t say online), and that’s all for the good. Far from sticking my head in the sand, I’ve been predicting this for several years and have written papers and blog posts about it. It makes a lot of social and economic sense and at some point, in a generation or three, the printed book will still be available, but not the dominant medium. (Just as there are enough people still interested in vinyl to support a small-scale vinyl music industry.)

    B) All that said, the everything’s-available-online argument you’re making doesn’t the three points I made in my first post. Libraries do not = books. I’d be happy to hear a coherent counter-argument if you haven’t gone away…

  • @Anonymous

    Yeah, some of the renderings have echoes of FLW elements, but they seem to me to be more usable. If you’ve ever been to a FLW building, a number of them feel awfully claustrophobic and were designed on a scale that’s a little uncomfortable for the average-sized person.

    In terms of the more computers approach, that’s all for the good, but just as libraries do not = books, libraries do not = computers. As I tried to make clear in my first post, libraries offer all kinds of added-value services and programs that enhance communities and help build civil society.

    In terms of having less books, that doesn’t really jibe with what a friend of mine told me yesterday about the stats she’s seen (she works for DCPL). Apparently, circulation across the city is up something like 30% from the previous year — which seems to indicate an increased interest in, and use of books and other materials.

  • For those who haven’t been in a library in a while may I say that libraries offer lots of access even to all that supposed free online content. Not everyone has a computer with an Internet connection. Many go to the library for that very thing. Sure libraries do offer databases via the Internet to citizens with library cards but again, if you don’t have a computer those databases don’t do much good. And considering the times we are living in now, the public libraries serve an even greater need than they have been.

    As to the comment by Dee Montgomerry Pennyworth – sure there are a lot of books online but Copyright will always (or at least for quite a while) limit that – after all publishers have to make money. And for the record there is a lot, lot, lot, lot of content that is not and likely never be free on the Internet (think Lexis, Factiva, etc). Sure the publisher has an Internet based product that if you pay lots of money to access you can get it via the Internet but if you don’t subscribe you are SOL. Google book’s only full-book/full-report imaged material is in the public domain. All the rest are snippets of various sizes with the option of linking to a source to purchase or borrow (from a library).

    Just because many needs can be satisfied with the free Internet content, doesn’t mean every need can or will be met via the Internet.

  • and as a librarian to add I second and third everything Know Your Rights said.

  • You know what’s annoying? People who seem to think that all modern architecture is soulless and nonfunctional.

  • Also, and most importantly, libraries act as pseudo homeless shelters. This is very important to society. Without libraries where would the homeless live?

  • Anonymous 3:57, just look at those modern designs. Too few, too many or weird windows, little engagement/context with the street, lack of ornamentation/public art and no hint that inside lies a valuable cultural repository. They will appear outdated in 25 years, especially considering today’s shoddy level of workmanship. The MLK library is a good example of how cutting-edge modern designs do not age well. Just compare the Library of Congress Madison building with the Jefferson building.
    The classic Mt. Pleasant, (repaired) Georgetown, and old Central library (MtV Square) will endure, to be appreciated by future generations.
    Sure, you may disagree, but I’m not just making a cavalier judgement – I’ve actually given it quite a bit of thought over the years.

  • Mr. T has a point. If you want an awesome example of traditional library architecture, check out the newly renovated branch in Takoma @ 5th & Cedar. It’s a tiny original “Carnegie” library that has been very lovingly restored!

  • i love the arlington county library. i get all the latest dvds from them. i search online, request the dvd, and then get an email when it’s available. it’s great!

    and yes, i get books to and they’re not all available online. besides, how can you read online content in the metro? you can’t! haters will say get a kindle, but who’s gonna afford that except those who’re too rich to care about the library anyway? i’ve taken travel books with me abroad and then returned them to the library after coming back from europe. oh i wish the dc library were as great as arlington’s.

  • who are the architects?

  • I say the Petworth Library, even as the archiect dresses it up not unlike the Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg.

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