Designer selected for RIA’s Woodridge Library

By Stephanie Liotta Atkinson

DC Public Library has selected Wienceck + Associates and Bing Thom Architects to design the new Woodridge Library, at the corner of 18th & RIA NE (see the full press release below). If the library is anything like other projects in Bing Thom’s portfolio, the new Woodridge Library will be a model of extraordinary design, leap-frogging the library from its 1950’s-era book bunker stature to a radiant, light-filled community hub. I believe that good design can inspire all sorts of changes from renewed community engagement to new business development. It’s a lot to pin on a library, but a well-designed public space should raise the tide.

To add some context to your evaluation of DCPL’s selection, Bing Thom is responsible for a library in Surrey, British Columbia, for which it famously solicited neighborhood feedback via Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. Right here in DC, Bing Thom designed Southwest’s Arena Stage.

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Just in case Bing Thom is soliciting advice via local community blogs, my $0.02:

  • build up – take advantage of the air rights
  • Langdon Park borders the library – incorporate views of the park and a veranda for leisurely sitting and reading outdoors
  • Annex the triangle of land between RIA & Hamlin for library use (possibly closing off and redeveloping that small strip of Hamlin Street); give the library a RIA address
  • consider how the neighborhood will use the space beyond traditional library uses: community meetings, small work groups, youth engagement, computer labs, tutoring, job searches/training, community classes
  • consider cross-functionality – business center/incubator, fully-functional cafe space, art showcase/performance space

And, to whom it may concern: libraries and rec centers should remain open longer hours each evening and for the full day on Sundays.

DCPL’s press release:


Dear Woodridge Library Patron,

The DC Public Library has selected the award-winning team of Weinceck+
Associates and Bing Thom Architects to design the new Woodridge
Neighborhood Library. Located at 1801 Hamlin St. NE, the new building
will be the first library in the United States designed by
internationally acclaimed architect Bing Thom.

“We have been fortunate to have talented and internationally
recognized architects design libraries for the District,” said
Ginnie Cooper, chief librarian for the District of Columbia. “With
this architect team, the District’s new libraries will continue to
inspire people in the city’s neighborhoods as well as around the world.”

The design team was selected through a competitive bid process that
involved Library officials and community members. Weinceck + Associates
has worked on a broad range of projects, including housing, schools, and
master planning. The firm also served as the architect of record for
the Francis Gregory and Bellevue libraries. Bing Thom Architects
designed the renovation and expansion of Arena Stage at the Mead Center
for American Theater. In addition, the firm designed the innovative
Surrey City Centre Library in Surrey, British Columbia.

The Library has allocated $1.48 million to the design work. The design
phase is expected to take six to eight months. The community will have
the opportunity to view the designs as they are developed and provide
feedback. The total project cost is estimated to be $16.5 million.

The Woodridge Library opened in 1958. A condition assessment performed
in 2010 found the library to be in need of replacement.

An interim library will open in late 2012 while the Woodridge Library is
being rebuilt. The new Woodridge Library will open in 2015. The new
library will include: space for 80,000 books, CDs, DVDs and other
library materials; 32 public-access computers and free Wi-Fi Internet
access; a large meeting room for up to 100 people and two conference
rooms for up to 14 people.

Like all other library buildings under construction a LEED Silver
Certification is expected. Anacostia, Dorothy I.Height/Benning, Watha
T. Daniel/Shaw and Tenley libraries have received Gold certification
from the U.S. Green Building Certification Institute.


George A. Williams, Esq.
Media Relations Manager
DC Public Library
w: (202) 727-1184
m: (202) 596-0345

4 thoughts on “Designer selected for RIA’s Woodridge Library

  1. Won’t this be the third DC Library project that Wienceck & Associates have built? The other two are Bellevue and Frances Gregory. As long as the structure is all glass, the views will encompass all sides, not just Langdon Park. The British Columbia library even has a teen room for gaming and other activities. I do hope the youth of Ward 5 will have the opportunity to participate in design suggestions. But some of the suggestions can be incorporated in the Langdon Park Recreation Center. Why aren’t these two buildings being combined? It would make more sense. All the things you have described above are in the new Deanwood Library/Recreation Center, and more!!! We should really try to see how we can duplicate what Deanwood has done!

  2. Great news! Also, I’m calling it- I think the interim library will be at Rhode Island Row, similar to the very nice storefront interim library that opened on M Street in Georgetown when their library burnt down. Rhode Island Row has already come out and said that there will be a ‘government agency’ leasing one of the spots- initially I assumed it would be a DMV but wouldn’t a library be fantastic? It fits in with the time frame given for the interim library mentioned in this article. Any thoughts?

  3. Agreed so much on building up and using all the air rights. Unfortunately, I fear that the neighborhood will be strongly opposed to such an idea. 😦

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