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Bing Thom’s D.C. Library

Concrete Details: D.C.’s Newest Library Packs a Lot of Visual Drama Into a Small, Simple Building

The Woodridge Library opened on Wednesday. 

Washington City Paper, Sept. 29, 2016

Suddenly, pyramids are cropping up all over D.C. The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) opened to great fanfare last weekend, a bronze stack of flipped-over pyramid bases. The MGM Casino at National Harbor, set to open this winter, is a massive truncated pyramid topped by a leaf-shaped canopy. Now, on a much smaller scale, we have the new Woodridge Library in Northeast, designed by Bing Thom Architects (BTA) and Wiencek + Associates. The way its gray-brown walls tilt inward gives it a definite pyramid-like quality. When did ancient Egypt become hip again?

The similarity between the new library, which opened Sept. 28, and the work of NMAAHC designer David Adjaye doesn’t end there. A chunky, slatted white sunshade covers the whole roof, an echo of the canopy that overhangs Adjaye’s Francis A. Gregory Library in Hillcrest. This wasn’t intentional, says Brian Ackerman of BTA, the senior project architect. “There were many discussions of getting compared to that or not… but it’s totally different. And it’s not a bad thing; [Francis A. Gregory] is a nice building.”

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