March 3, 2020 Community Meeting Notes

March 3, 2020 Community Meeting Notes

On Tuesday, March 3, 2020, the library hosted a community meeting in the North Hall at Eastern Market. Executive director Richard Reyes-Gavilan introduced the design-build team of Quinn/Evans Architects and Whiting/Turner Construction. The presentation included the project process and timeline and an opportunity for community members to participate in design visioning exercises.

In Attendance

Over 20 community members, D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen, staff from Quinn/Evans Architects, Whiting/Turner Construction, and DC Public Library. 

Opening Introduction and Slideshow

D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen discussed how positive the process for construction of Southwest Library and the renovation of Northeast Library had been. DC Public Library executive director Richard Reyes-Gavilan explained the proposed construction timeline – a timeline dependent upon the regulatory process. He then handed the discussion over to lead architects Chuck Wray and Jeff Hoover.

Chuck Wray then introduced the build/design team and listed their qualifications including renovation of the Eastern Market after the fire. He then discussed the issues with the Southeast Library building -- it’s historic nature and location in an historic district, the limitations of the lot size lot and the budget -- how to balance need with costs, and the goal of greatly expanding the square footage of the library.

Jeff Hoover discussed the libraries he has designed and the information collected to-date through community meetings, focus groups, and a survey about the Southeast Library community. 85% of the people who answered the survey said that Southeast Library is their closest library but 65% do not use the Southeast Library building as a place to spend time. 

There were three interactive exercises for meeting participants that provided the designers with even more information on how the building is currently used and what programs and services community members would like to have in their library.

Throughout the two-hour meeting questions were asked and comments were made by community members.

Questions and Comments

Have you compared the information on the use of the library gathered by your team with the census data on the surrounding community?

When will the actual renovation begin?

We anticipate a lengthy regulatory and design process because of the historic nature of the building and the size of the lot. The design process will begin in Summer 2020 and continue thru mid 2022. Construction is planned to begin in late 2022 and will continue thru 2024 with the library opening in 2024. 

Has anyone collected information from library users experiencing homelessness?

Yes, from surveys and focus groups with our Coffee and Conversation series.

Can you move the main entrance?

This is going to be a very involved process, we will be working with 8 or 9 different regulatory agencies on this project. We don’t know at this time what we will or will not be allowed to do – but we want to understand what you would like us to do.

 There’s already that second entrance on the side - can’t we continue to use that?

True, but there’s also the question of universal experience of the building, we want everyone to share the same experience when entering the building. Right now that is not the case – a dignified entrance for use by everybody is one of the many design challenges with this building.

When will the renovation begin?

Due to the historic nature of the building, the design process will be at least two years. We anticipate that construction will begin in 2022 with the new library opening in 2024.

The audience then broke out into small discussion groups to engage in design visioning exercises, which were captured to be shared with the design team.