In Anacostia, a Library for the Ages

If there were a shining symbol of 21st century hope last night at the 2011 awards program by the AIA Triangle Section of North Carolina, the Anacostia Public Libary in Washington D.C. certainly made a fine case for it.

The honor award was designed by the Freelon Group of Durham, N.C., in association with R.McGhee & Associates of Washington, D.C.  It’s to serve one of the toughest sections of the nation’s capital, embracing the needs of young and old alike, while addressing rapidly changing notions of what a library can be.

“It’s good when architects realize that a library is a building with a legacy – that it has a lifespan – and then show that they’ve thought about that,” said Anne Fougeron, head of the San Francisco architecture firm of the same name, who chaired the awards jury.  “These are the kinds of buildings that are for everybody, with after-school and senior citizens programs, but that are also about culture, computers, the Internet and literacy.”

In an era when bookstores like Borders first create a new model for reading and enjoying books, then cease to exist only a few years later, a library must find ways to endure.  “Their content may change, but the buildings will stay,” she said.  “Whether it’s digital or printed out, people still need to have access to it.”

Moreover, the Anacostia library offers its users an education in sustainability, by example.  “Its storm water management system educates kids inside,” she said.  “There are explanations for it, and that’s how you get people to understand – by seeing it on a day-to-day basis, rather than reading about it.”

Other awards from the AIA Triangel included:


1.  Aldridge House, Raleigh, N.C., by Kenneth E. Hobgood, Architects

2.  Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham, N.C., by Szostak Design, Inc.

3.  Jones 2, Raleigh, N.C., by Kenneth E. Hobgood, Architects

4.  JC Raulston Arboretum Lath House, Raleigh, N.C., by Frank Harmon, Architects, PA 

5.  Architect’s Office, Research Triangle Park, N.C., by Perkins + Will


Duke University, East Campus Steam Plant, Durham, N.C., by Smith Group

Isosceles Award: 

North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh N.C., by Thomas Phifer Partners

For more information on the AIA Triangle Awards, go to:

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