Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Library
3160 16th Street, NW
Dear Ms. Cooper:
In its meeting of 19 February, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the proposed concept for the addition to and renovation of the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Library at 3160 16th Street, NW. The Commission expressed concern about the impact of the proposed alterations on the historic Carnegie library building and requested that further design alternatives be submitted for its consideration.
In their discussion, the Commission members raised several issues regarding the proposed glass addition on the northwest side in its relationship to the historic structure: they recommended further study of the character and glazing of the addition, possibly to make it more sympathetic to the original; they suggested that the front plane of the addition could be recessed further from the street to reduce its prominence; and they recommended that the skin at the connection to the historic facade be differentiated from that of the principal volume of the addition. Noting the concerns stated by a community group regarding the loss of the library's open-space setting due to the proposed addition, they encouraged further exploration of accommodating more of the proposed building program at the rear of the building instead of at the northwest side.
The Commission members recommended further study of the entrance area at the front of the building, including the proposed ramp and landing. While they supported the concept of retaining entry at the original arched portico via the elongated ramp, they commented that the proposal for a stepped and landscaped strip along the ramp detracts from the character and proportions of the original building, suggesting instead that stone could be used. They also recommended further study of the treatment of the ramp where it connects to the historic portico, including: detailed study of the proposed landing to assure its sufficiency for accessibility; a possible change of materials at the landing to reflect the transition from a site feature to a building element; and consideration of balancing the landing with a design feature on the other side of the entrance.
The Commission appreciates the considerable efforts of the DC Public Library to retain significant and character-defining elements of the existing building while creating an appropriate facility for contemporary requirements. The Commission looks forward to review of a revised concept addressing these comments. As always, the Commission staff is available to assist you with the next submission.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, AIA
Ginnie Cooper, Chief Librarian
District of Columbia Public Library
901 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
cc: Henry Myerberg, HMA2 Architects