‘francis gregory neighborhood library’ by adjaye associates, washington DC image © edmund sumner all images courtesy of adjaye associates

both the ‘francis gregory neighborhood library’ and the ‘william o. lockridge/bellevue library’ by london-based adjaye associates have opened to the public in washington DC. the buildings open themselves to their residential contexts, generating welcoming centers which merge socially focused aspects with an urban and cultural program.

within the wooded setting of fort davis park, the ‘francis gregory neighborhood library’ takes on the atmosphere of a pavilion. capped with a flat plane roof with deep eaves, the two-storey building is defined by an elevational composition of diamond panels. the motif is continued within the canopy, shading the interior from direct sunlight while introducing solar gain during winter. an external glass enclosure of alternating transparent and opaque panes reflect the greenery within the facade. openings between the diagonal structural framework allow outward views into the trees.

adjaye associates: two libraries for washington DC facade detail image © edmund sumner


the interior hosts programmatic areas for adults, teens and children along with public meeting and conference rooms. the perimeter’s windows integrate seating to encourage visitors to enjoy the landscape. a material palette of timber brings the outdoor environment inside.

adjaye associates: two libraries for washington DC library atrium image © edmund sumner

‘our mission, with the francis gregory library, has been to offer a new way to experience books, reading and story-telling. rather than a traditional closed building, this library is porous and open, with the canopy providing a welcoming entrance that invites people inside. conceived as an extension to the park, it is not only a place to gather, but also a place of contemplation and learning.’ – david adjaye

adjaye associates: two libraries for washington DC upper level reading areas image © edmund sumner

integrating into the site’s steep terrain, the ‘william o. lockridge/bellevue library’ is expressed with a cluster of volumes which are lifted or set within the ground. an entry portico is placed beneath an elevated event and public gathering area while the stacks and reading areas are placed on the lower floors. a series of rectangular footprints arranged at angles to each other in plan form a linear progression starting with the circulation desk, and then following with the adult browsing and support offices. paralleling the rising street and topography, visitors ascend a concrete stairway to successive levels within separate structures, finding the teenage on a second floor and children’s services on the third.

adjaye associates: two libraries for washington DC ‘william o. lockridge/bellevue library’ image © edmund sumner

although reaching three storeys in some parts, the collection of buildings still maintain the scale of the encompassing residential fabric. timber fins wrapping the concrete and glazed skin articulates the external presence amidst the sloping landscape, doubling as structural supports and filtering daylight inside.

adjaye associates: two libraries for washington DC covered entry image © edmund sumner

‘communities need empowering buildings – and this neighbourhood library is all about the creation of a strong beacon for its community. the primary act of public architecture is to create spaces that are socially edifying and socially liberating – using design excellence as a social force that makes good. this is at the heart of my work, so it is very exciting to see this building welcome its community through its doors.’ – david adjaye

adjaye associates: two libraries for washington DC central atrium image © edmund sumner

see our initial coverage of the libraries during their design phases here.

adjaye associates: two libraries for washington DC computer area image © edmund sumner

project info:

project name: francis gregory neighborhood library architect: adjaye associates structural engineer: ReStl designers, inc. mechanical engineer: setty & associates client: capital projects total area: 22,500 sqf contract value: 13 m USD

project name: william o. lockridge/bellevue library architect: adjaye associates client: district of columbia public libraries structural engineer: ReStl designers inc mechanical engineer: getty and associates international total area: 22,500 sqf contract value: 13 m USD