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Mayor Bowser Celebrates New Southwest Library

Saturday, May 15, 2021

(Washington, DC) Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and District leaders celebrated the completion of the new $18 million Southwest Library located at 900 Wesley Pl, SW in Ward 6. The library, built using mass-timber, is the first District Library to earn a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification.

“The new Southwest Library is a world-class facility that is opening at the perfect time – just as Washingtonians are looking to get out and enjoy all DC has to offer,” said Mayor Bowser. “I am grateful for everyone in the community who was involved in the planning and design process of this library. Together, we are delivering a library that everyone should be proud of and that will serve residents for years to come.”

The Southwest Library is the District's 21st library renovated or rebuilt since 2007. It was designed as a pavilion overlooking 3rd and I St. Park to the north, emphasizing the connection to the outdoors and promoting natural light. The design is a nod to the mid-century architecture in the neighborhood. The new Southwest library features:

  • 20,000 square feet of public space
  • Increased public space and natural light
  • Improved reading spaces, including an outdoor reading porch
  • Meeting room for 100+ people
  • Three conference rooms for 12-20 people
  • Four study rooms for 1-4 people
  • Separate areas for children, teens, and adults
  • An Innovation Lab with 3-D printers (coming soon)

“If I could conceive of the perfect library to assist with pandemic recovery, it would have to include copious amounts of outdoor space, high ceilings, plenty of seating that is generously distanced, ubiquitous technology, and tons of meeting rooms,” said DC Public Library (DCPL) Executive Director Richard Reyes-Gavilan. “The new Southwest Library is just that - an extraordinary building that reflects the very best of the Southwest Waterfront's mid-century architectural style.”

The Southwest Library is the first DC Public Library location to receive a LEED Platinum rating. Awarded by the US Green Building Council, LEED certification ensures that buildings limit damaging the environment and promote wellness. The Southwest Library is the first in the world to feature a folded plate roof made from dowel-laminated timber, a method that fits timber planks together under heavy pressure using hardwood pegs. The result is the wooden beams and roof are as strong as concrete or steel. The library's roof also has a vegetated green roof with solar panels that will offset almost half of the building's estimated annual energy usage. In addition to rewarding environmentally conscious design elements, LEED credits promote human health by rewarding design elements like air ventilation and filtering, use of bike racks and connection to outdoor spaces.

“The Department of Energy and Environment is proud to partner with the DC Public Library regarding this state-of-the-art project, delivering the benefits of green infrastructure, prioritizing sustainable development, and helping to achieve the District’s aggressive climate and clean energy goals,” said Department of Energy and Environment Director Tommy Wells. “This New Southwest Library supports Mayor Bowser’s Solar for All Program, which promotes affordable utility bills for income-qualified families and improves their quality of life. I commend DC Public Library’s vision and leadership demonstrated by this innovative project that pairs electric battery storage and solar to deliver clean energy and resilience from electric outages, providing a model for future construction and renovation projects in the District and beyond.”

The DC Public Library worked with Turner Construction and Perkins+Will for the new library. The new Southwest Library was fully funded at $18 million. The DC Department of Parks and Recreation funded $500 thousand for improving the area between the Library and the 3rd And I St Park. In addition, the DC Department of the Environment and Energy (DOEE) funded $990 thousand for the solar panel system as part of the District's Solar for All Program. DOEE will direct the library's utility savings to offset utility bills for low-middle income families in the community.