Renovate, Innovate, Update – CORE and the Mount Pleasant Library
The Carnegie Corporation of New York awarded a single government grant totaling $682,000 which paid for the construction of four public libraries. One of the last Carnegie libraries built in the United States using that grant is the Mount Pleasant Library in Washington, DC. The Mount Pleasant Library was originally built in 1925, and was recently renovated and expanded by DC-based architecture/design firm CORE using ArchiCAD.
A previous renovation completed some four decades before left some features lacking, though the building was brought up to ADA code at the time – so the team at CORE took on the project with an eye to adding more space, and looking at current code issues that needed to be addressed. The team documented all the existing conditions in the library using historical plans. Onsite observations were also factored in and documented in the ArchiCAD model. All of these calculations were performed prior to adding renovation layers were added to the ArchiCAD model. The team opted to use a separate file for the existing building and then linked that in to the main file as a background layer.
Unusual Site Layout
The library is snuggled into a trapezoid-shaped site, presenting a challenge when choosing a location for the addition. The goal for the project was to increase the square footage from 18,000 square feet to 25,000. It now has seating for more than 200 people and features a 100-person meeting room. Some of the original plan for the library had become unusable over time, due to changing codes and changing library needs – including living quarters that the library had once provided to its on-site manager – so that space had to be repurposed.
Renovations to Enhance Efficiency
The resulting building is designed to LEED Gold standards, although as of this publish date, it is not clear if the library commission will pursue the certification. Having documentation that can be adapted to show how the building met LEED requirements was extremely helpful. The architects at CORE used drawings produced in ArchiCAD to document these items.
Many of the materials used to build the library’s addition were recycled, renovated and repurposed or reused altogether. All of the systems in the building are compliant to current energy standards and conservation. An on-site water treatment system provides chemical-free water treatment for the HVAC cooling system and the plumbing fixtures promote low water use. The library features a rain screen which is made up of many elements, including the waterproofing membrane applied to the metal framed exterior wall, then high recycled content mineral wool insulation and terra cotta panels produced by NBK mounted outside this exterior wallThe rain screen helps with the insulation of the addition, according to lead architect, Dean Hutchison.
“The rain screen is one of the more interesting pieces of the addition, it allows rain to flow through the envelope of the building, keeping heat and cold away from its skin. We also designed a roof with white material that reflects heat away – the roof is also shaded by angled Terra Cotta material mounted on a steel frame.”
This library is unique in that the uppermost floor was dedicated to the children’s program – which is one of the largest of its kind in the district. The team was tasked with keeping as much of the program in the existing building and relocate offices and conference rooms into what would become the addition.
The Model Makes Meetings Move Forward
CORE made good use of their ArchiCAD model from the very beginning, having to get all design ideas approved by historic groups and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts – in fact, the original location for the addition was nixed during the review process. At that point, the architects at CORE regrouped and moved the addition to the rear of the building – very simply done in the model.
“Dealing with the various community groups, committees and historic aspects of the project was a challenge – but we were able to work with all these interested parties to meet their expectations and still stay true to what the building was supposed to be.”
The team also used ArchiCAD to set sun angles and demonstrate how the movement of the sun would affect the library and how shadows would move through the area. The Commission of Fine Arts was particularly interested in the sun studies as well – since some nearby buildings do block the sun.
Hutchison says that on most projects his team uses multiple disciplines to design, employing all aspects of design into their process, from sketches to hand renderings – but manage all of their projects in ArchiCAD – and this was the case on the Mt. Pleasant Library.
The model was fully built in ArchiCAD and taken into Artlantis rendering software to complete the rendering. The model helped CORE maintain the original building’s footprint and lay the renovation piece over it. There was a desire to connect the old library building to the new addition, but still be able to highlight the existing, historical aspect of the library. The entrance to the atrium was key to building the connection between that history and the updates the addition provides.
“The two-story, sky-lit entry hall is the most striking part of the new library’s design because visitors can see the connection between old and new,” said Hutchison. “We want visitors to feel that they have entered a space that retains the historic, grand qualities of the existing library yet exposes parts of the building that they never were able to experience before.”
“And when visitors move from the entry hall into the existing library, we want them to feel as though they have entered a cozy space that encourages contemplation and engagement with the library services.”
Additional photos can be found here