DCPL Team Presents Modified Southeast Library Designs

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Plans for a modified universal entrance on S Carolina Ave. SE Thursday. Image: Quinn Evans/Courtesy DCPL

On Thursday, Sept. 29, the DC Public Library (DCPL) hosted a seventh community meeting about the renovation of the Southeast Library (403 Seventh St. SE).

The library is expected to close as early as Spring 2023 for construction.

The concept design, first presented in May 2021 by the design/build team of Whiting-Turner Construction/Quinn Evans Architects, includes an additional floor that will be excavated below what is now the underground level. The new floor will feature an expansion outside the building’s footprint into the public space on the South Carolina Avenue side, lit by a skylight cut in the top of the berm.

The current underground level will become the main floor that can be entered directly from a new, universally-accessible entrance on South Carolina Avenue SE.

On Thursday, the design team presented adjustments to the mechanical court to address concerns about sound attenuation. They also made refinements to the new universal entrance on South Carolina to address concerns about lighting and safety, porposing targeted lighting in recessed building entries to avoid inappropriate nighttime uses.

The team also conducted an environmental noise study to determine existing ambient noise in the area as well as the expected noise from new mechanical equipment, such as the air exhaust. The plans call for silencers and acoustic enclosures in particular around elevator and HVAC equipment.

Despite these changes, attendees at the meeting expressed concern about nighttime lights. Some said they were disappointed the library team had not considered putting the new entrance on D Street SE, as opposed to South Carolina.

The new library will increase space as much as possible within the limited footprint of the site and within the constraints of historic preservation. The team said there would be 25 percent more meeting space, 50 percent more room for books, double the space for adult seating and three times the space for children and families.

The team still needs to conclude the permitting process and complete agreements with subcontractors and suppliers before construction begins.

The newly renovated library is expected to reopen in Spring 2025.

You can see the full presentation here: DCPublicLibrary/southeast-community-mtg