In today’s digitized era libraries are still celebrated by many people in the world. Even though in the present time almost every information is present on the Internet but going to the library becomes a place of socializing to gain access to sharing knowledge space, network space, and a place to re-imagine. Still, a lot of people go to the library to study in silence, and peace for some libraries is like meditation places. One such library is The Bellevue/William O. Lockridge Library located in Washington, USA, by Architect David Adjaye for the District of Columbia Public Libraries (DCPL) system is energy-efficient and it responds to the natural landscape and surroundings.
The William O. Lockridge/Bellevue Library building is flexible, accessible, and inviting in nature. It challenges the traditional closed typology of the library by introducing o social elements with a strong urban and cultural program. It is symbolized by its celebration of views across the neighborhood, and the way it’s integrated into the dramatically sloping site topography which looks more like a Brutalist treehouse. David Adjaye says that his scrutiny into the nature of the library led him to consider the notion of placemaking and how the spaces influence social behaviors.
The tight, approximately 23,000-square-foot contour site drops at about 40 feet (ca. 12 meters), which Adjaye took as a reference to create a series of pod-like structures spilling down the slope.
In designing the most challenging part was to create a civic building within a residential context.
David Adjaye stated, “Communities need empowering buildings – And this neighborhood 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.”
Instead of a single monolithic form, The Bellevue / William O. Lockridge Library is designed in a group of geometric volumes that are elevated and grounded physically to the site.
Most of the public spaces are lifted above street level, which provides an excellent view of the neighborhood to the visitors. The library is divided into a pod-like structure where the main pavilion is of reinforced concrete and for ancillary spaces used steel-framed structure surface with synthetic stucco. The entrance of the library is kept at the lowest point on the north, under huge concrete piers supporting the structure’s poured-in-place concrete polygon.
The volumes created using the small, medium, and large forms mediate the scale of the building, by considering the library’s program and not just that but also capturing the surrounding urban fabric of a site and the topography of it. The whole structure is wrapped in concrete and glass curtain walls with timber fins over it, the envelope not only resolves the structural and shading requirements of the building, but it also articulates the vertical presence of the structure by juxtaposing to the sloping landscape. The geometric forms have vertical timber fins on the exterior, which creates a visual link between the different shapes.
Through the middle of the Bellevue Library, there is a large green-tinted light well cut, bringing natural light to the center of the building. Other rooms are also done bright in color; the staircase has a striking yellow color, and the reading rooms range from dark red to blue color. Further, in addition to the natural daylighting, the building also features energy-efficient lighting, both inside and out.
On the plan, to form a series of identical, shifting rectangles – the volumes follow the geometry of the site. The arrangement of spaces is done in such a way that the maximum eastern side is kept exposed for filtered natural lighting, which is the primary light source. The grounded main volume is used to host the library central stacks and primary reading and the volumes elevated to create a welcoming portico at the entrance area which alternatively can be used for events and informal gatherings.
The service areas of the library are layered, with adults, teenagers, and children’s services accommodated within separate volumes. The first floor has the circulation desk at starting and then following with the adult browsing, sights and sound, a meeting room, and other library staff support spaces. The second floor has additional services for children and adult browsing. The third floor has further adults, meeting rooms, and teen services. The concrete stairway, taking visitors up to the successive levels within the separate structure, matches the incline of the rising street and topography. Even though reaching three levels of building in some parts, the collection of structures still maintains the scale of the encompassing residential fabric.