Library of Congress Releases Architects’ Rendering of Capitol Hill Scholars’ Residence – Opening Scheduled for 2015

East Capitol Street Front of Scholars’ Residents. Rendering by Bowie Gridley Architects

Library of Congress Releases Architects’ Rendering of Capitol Hill Scholars’ Residence – Opening Scheduled for 2015

by Larry Janezich

The Library of Congress Scholars Residence, to be built at 601 East Capitol Street, SE, is expected to open for business in the spring of 2015.  Requests for bids for construction of the $10 million plus Scholars’ Residence in the former St. Cecelia’s Academy went out March 20, and are due April 24.  Six months from March 20 a general contractor will be selected from among the applicants.

The contractor will have 720 days to complete the extensive renovation of the interior and exterior of the building.  The facility will be completed and commissioned in the first quarter of 2015.  The LOC will not operate the facility directly, instead, it will contract out with a hospitality company.  Such companies run college dorms, conference centers, and federal training centers

There will be 50 new rooms for scholars described as a “dorm room setting,” with 44 efficiencies and six one-bedroom apartments.  Some will meet ADA requirements.  The facility will have communal kitchens; dorm kitchens in the rooms will have a microwave, coffeemaker, and refrigerator.  The facility will also have a multipurpose room and two lounge areas for the residents.

The over-all project will also include a temporary modular child care center located offsite during construction.  The construction, subsequent removal of the temporary modular child care center and site restoration is part of this project.  The child care facility will return to occupy the lower level of both buildings.

Among those using the facility will be those receiving LOC fellowships and scholars on sabbatical.  According to Dr. Geraldine Otremba, Senior Advisor for Education at the LOC, removing the obstacle of the expense of housing will provide greater opportunities for scholars in LOC fellow’s programs as well as scholars world-wide.   The LOC will canvass those registered as readers in the LOC to help identify the eligible population of potential scholar-residents, and once those eligibilities are determined following a wide-ranging conversation within the Library regarding how to set priorities, the plan is to provide housing “pretty much on a first come-first served basis,” according to Otremba.

The federal government purchased the property in 1991 and converted the lower floor of the two building to a child care facility.  The upper floors have remained vacant.  The renovation will remove the top story and roof of the east building and replace it with a new story; the roof of the west building will also be replaced.  A new floor will be inserted within the former gym and new window openings created in its façade.  A new entry pavilion and bridge will unite the buildings near the north side.

The federal project is exempt from historical preservation laws by the AOC and LOC have consulted voluntarily with ANC6B, ANC6C, the CHRS and the community to keep them informed of its intentions.  AOC expects there to be no impact on parking or traffic.  None of the residents will qualify for residential parking.  Additional details can be found at www.loc.gov/rsc starting Thursday.

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3 responses to “Library of Congress Releases Architects’ Rendering of Capitol Hill Scholars’ Residence – Opening Scheduled for 2015

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  2. Evan

    That design is more suitable for a suburban office park than Capitol Hill’s city neighborhood. There is too much empty space between the building and the street and the fence creates a feeling of isolation. The building fails the walk test; passing pedestrians would perceive it as something to get past, not to interact with.
    This is an opportunity to correct the hole in the fabric of the neighborhood created by the current building. We should not recreate the past mistake.

  3. DW

    Interesting comment but most of the homes and businesses on this street have large setbacks (aka front lawns) from the street and they have fences. Not sure this will be out of place based on the empty space between the building and the street. It has the feel of what it will be – a residence hall.