DC Public Library
Dorothy I. Height / Benning Library
Washington, DC

20,000 SF • 1,860 SQ M • LEED GOLD

The Benning Library is the first in a series of new libraries in Washington, DC that are designed to be flexible and open, to meet the needs of the community now and in the future. Located on a sloped site with residential uses to the north and east, and a commercial center to the south and west, the building is terraced into the slope to fit into the context of the surrounding neighborhood. The two floors are connected by a public stair inside the building, creating a corridor which encourages pedestrian circulation through the library allowing access both from Benning Road at the upper level, and from the commercial parking at the lower level.

The completed facility includes community spaces on the lower level including a 100-person multi-purpose room, two 12-person conference rooms and a public gathering and exhibition space. The upper level of the library houses the library’s collection, which on opening day included 40,000 books, DVDs, CDs and other library materials. The library has space to allow the collection to expand to up to 80,000 items.  Additionally, the upper level features separate reading areas for adults, teens and children, as well as the children’s program area. Five small study rooms offer opportunities for quiet study or tutoring sessions. The library has 32 computers for public use, providing internet access to all in the community. The facade of the building is comprised of copper panels chosen due to their high recycled material content, and ease of maintenance.

The DC Public Library has a mandate to build sustainable facilities, and the library acheives these goals having received LEED® Gold Certification. Sustainable features of the project include a vegetated green roof, solar control and daylight management, displacement air system and extensive use of recycled or renewable materials.