PROJECT New Carrollton Branch Library
ARCHITECT GWWO Architects:Mark Lapointe, AIA; Alan Reed, FAIA, LEED AP; Andrew Towne, AIA; Mandy Palasik, AIA, LEED AP BD+C; Katie Werner Grajewski, AIA
GENERAL CONTRACTOR Tuckman-Barbee Construction Co., Inc.
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT Site Resources, Inc.
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER Faisant Associates, Inc.
CIVIL ENGINEER Site Resources, Inc.
MECHANICAL ENGINEER CCJM
ELECTRICAL ENGINEER CCJM
PHOTOGRAPHER/RENDERER Sam Kittner
LOCATION New Carrollton, Maryland, US
PROJECT COMPLETION DATE 9/26/2018
Built in 1971, the existing Brutalist-style structure embraced the architectural Field Theory movement of Walter Netsch and featured an interior layout comprised of a series of rotated equilateral triangles. Without any major improvements since its opening, this community institution was failing. From building systems—HVAC, roofing, and windows—to deteriorating finishes, present asbestos, spatial inadequacies, a hidden entry, and poor wayfinding, the facility wasn’t meeting the community’s needs. The design for the full interior renovation and addition breathes new life into the two-story structure, creating a welcoming, technology-rich facility that establishes its place as a community anchor and meets the needs of today’s library patrons.
The project began by crafting a solution to the previously underwhelming approach and entry. Upon arrival, patrons made their way to a set of nondescript doors that led to a non-monitored hallway where guests could turn to enter the library or descend to the ground floor. Taking its cues from the two-dimensional triangular floor plan, a new three-dimensional glass prism breaks through the former understated entry, framing the new entrance and housing additional community gathering space. Seen from afar, this symbol of enlightenment re-establishes the building as a beacon to the community and creates a clear destination for those arriving via car or foot.
Responding to the dynamic shift of libraries from places of quiet study to vibrant centers of community collaboration, the program emphasized reducing the amount of space for collections and solo study while increasing the number of group study areas and social spaces. All public areas were also migrated to the first floor to provide easier accessibility and staff monitoring.
The library’s new interior layout responds to the existing triangular configuration and places major destinations at each of the three apexes: children’s collection, public meeting rooms, and the entrance with adjacent café. Upon entry, patrons have an immediate view of the circulation desk and the central learning commons where all areas diverge from. In keeping with the design technique, a shifted secondary grid of collection space and study rooms creates an orderly kaleidoscopic effect, radiating around the central social space.
The addition of modern program elements includes study and breakout space (with specific areas designated for children and teens) for groups of all sizes as well as computer training facilities. Individualized spaces for children, teens, and adults make everyone feel welcome. The Discovery Reef children’s collection sparks wonder and curiosity with a 270-gallon salt water aquarium, colorful lighting simulating the underwater experience, a storytime room replicating a deep see habitat, a glowing bubble tube, reading nooks, a homework station, and appropriately-sized themed-furniture. Flexible seating areas, bar-height computer stations, and virtual reality and gaming within the Teen Zone assure this area is bustling after school. Enhancing the community connection, a colorful resin and aluminum model created by a local artist hangs prominently within the commons.
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New Carrollton Branch Library
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