Here Are the Latest Design Concepts for SE Library

Councilmember Charles Allen – who joined the virtual meeting – said he had had a preview of the presentation, and had found it “phenomenal” and “stimulating – filled with space and light”, adding “I think you’ll be super excited to see where we’ve landed.”

Here Are the Latest Design Concepts for SE Library

by Larry Janezich

Posted May 6, 2021

On Wednesday night, DC Public Library held a virtual community meeting on the $23 million renovation of the Southeast Library, and Quinn Evans Architects gave Capitol Hill residents a look at the latest schematics for the plan. Representatives of Quinn Evans took attendees through a PowerPoint presentation. 

The Upper Floor Plan: Here is adult collection, the media collection, a study room, and a staff workroom.  The floor will be accessed through the original 7th Street entrance and the west stairwell/elevators via a new entrance on South Carolina Avenue.

Here’s a rendition of the Upper Floor looking toward the 7th Street entrance, showing the skylight and the light well.  Furniture is notional and may not reflect what will finally be placed. 

The Ground Floor Plan will feature a large meeting room, a study, a conference room, community computing, holds and new books, a circulation work room and storage.  Friends of Southeast Library will have a storage room here to hold books donated for book sales.    

Here’s a rendition of what the Ground Floor will look like from the 7th Street side conference room looking to the west end of the library.  The “goldenrod” painted stairwell and elevators will permit access at the west end of the library, again via the new South Carolina entrance.  Access is also permitted via interior stairwell descending from the main 7th Street entrance.   

The below grade Lower Floor Plan includes:  the elementary collection, spaces for programs and activities, the picture book collection, the early learning collection, and the teen collection.  It also has staff rooms and the manager’s office.  Natural light from the light well will be supplemented by a skylight running the length of the building over the underground extension of the below grade floor on the library’s south side.  This level will be accessed directly from the  new entrance on South Carolina. 

Here’s a rendition of the Lower Level showing the underground southern extension lit by its own skylight as well as the central light well. 

And here’s a rendition of the new entrance from South Carolina Avenue.

Designers say the renovation will provide:

  • 25% more meeting/conference spaces
  • Almost 50% more computer space
  • Double the space for adult seating
  • 3 times the space for children and families
  • Collaboration opportunities
  • 3 bookable group rooms
  • Ground floor meeting story hour space
  • Entry level access for children’s programs
  • Age specific active learning spaces
  • Nine fold increase in children’s seating
  • Children’s collection increased more than 50%

The current library is closing at the end of 2022 and the renovated library will reopen in the spring of 2024. 


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8 responses to “Here Are the Latest Design Concepts for SE Library

  1. Rick

    Not a particularly friendly visual connection to the house next door on S. Carolina Ave.

  2. Marvelous — congratulations to the designers. 2024 can’t come soon enough.

  3. Tim

    Could use some outdoor areas to work at a table or bench with WiFi. A patio or elevated deck with seating would be nice.

  4. Christine McCoy

    This looks amazing!! Very impressed with new design!

  5. Igantious R

    Where will all the homeless people be routed?

    • Wendy Blair

      How beautiful, imaginative and thrilling — I can’t wait to return. A few questions, which I can ask later — one is about security. I’m thinking that two doors, 7th Street and S.Caroline Avenue, will require double the security. Of course I imagine that Marc Holler’s garden along S. Carolina’s steep slope will be replanted, with some outdoor seating. All the natural lighting and the skylight “well” makes me hope very strong well-installed windows will be installed — not like the leaky ones that have troubled some of the relatively new branches installed under Ginny Cooper.

  6. Raiford Gaffney

    In response to the request for outside seating, we are getting that with the renovation of the Eastern Market Metro area. It is almost finished and absolutely lovely!

  7. Ron Tomasso

    As a resident of the 600 block of D Street, just wanted to comment that the D Street side is definitely the “back.” Hopefully plans will be made for trash storage and removal and other services that are not detrimental to the residential quality of D Street. Otherwise, the basis concept seems sound and we welcome a renovation of the library.