Southeast Library Design Team Drops Some Hints at Community Meeting on Renovation

Capitol Hill residents who gave feedback on concept spaces for the renovated Southeast Library earlier this year liked these possibilities.  Click to enlarge.

Southeast Library Design Team Drops Some Hints at Community Meeting on Renovation

By Larry Janezich

July 24, 2020

Thursday night, the architectural firm of Quinn Evans participated in a DC Public Library virtual community meeting to report on the status of the redevelopment of the Southeast Library.

The construction timeline has not changed; work is scheduled to begin in 2022 with the goal of finishing in 2024.  The firm is just beginning work on the concept design so there were no “pretty pictures.”

But, the designers explained the plan for making the library bigger by expanding vertically underground.  The existing ground floor (entered from D Street) will be made taller and the floor expanded horizontally.  In addition architects are considering a small addition on the west side of the building which would provide space for an elevator and mechanical systems, taking into consideration the effect on the adjoining residential properties.  Other above ground expansion is unlikely available to the project. They see no need to seek an exception to historic preservation guidelines at this point.

The DCPL will work with partners in the area to provide Interim library services.  Designers are working with partners in the area to find an appropriate alternative location as opposed to a trailer.  There are opportunities on the Eastern Market Metro Plaza for library services.

In response to a question, designers said that the views of the homeless who often use library space for shelter and restrooms have been taken into account.  Library staff distributed surveys to the homeless who use Southeast Library, and collected them.  The design team met in the library while the homeless were there and their input is built into the library programs.  Designers said that they believe that libraries are open to all, and they do not compartmentalize residents; libraries are for all residents no matter what stage they are in in their lives.

Regarding the reopening of Southeast Library currently closed because of the pandemic, library representatives said that small libraries like Southeast have additional restraints and it “is not prudent” to predict how services will be delivered.  The goal is to open as soon as possible with safety the first priority.

The next community meeting will be in late summer, and the design team will have concept designs.

Thursday night’s presentation will be up on the DC library website by the end of the day Friday for those seeking additional info – see here:

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