CFA 19/FEB/09-9


Washington Highlands Neighborhood Library
115 Atlantic Street, SW
United States

D.C. Public Library
Washington Highlands Neighborhood Library
New replacement building
Review Type


Dear Ms. Cooper:

In its meeting of 19 February, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the proposed replacement building for the Washington Highlands Neighborhood Library at 115 Atlantic Street, SW. The Commission commented positively on the playfulness of the design and approved the concept with several recommendations.

While the Commission members acknowledged the challenges proposed by the sloping site, they questioned some site plan details and the treatment of the ground plane. They commented in particular on the undesirable prominence of the proposed parking area along the street frontage and recommended further study of its configuration and materials, including a design of the surface that could accommodate outdoor events. They also raised concern about the narrow space created between the proposed library and the existing retaining wall; they commented that the likely need to secure this area with fencing would introduce an undesirable feature that undermines the open public character of the overall design intent.

Regarding the design of the building, the Commission members questioned what they foresee as the character of the entrance area as illustrated in the proposal. They commented that the sheltered north-facing entrance beneath the elevated pavilions would be relatively dark and unwelcoming. The Commission members also recommended that the materials and cladding of the pavilions be more playful and expressive of the lightness of their steel structure, rather than suggesting ponderous concrete construction.

The Commission looks forward to review of a revised design concept. As always, the 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: David Adjaye, Adjaye Associates