Southeast Library May 5 Design Meeting

Southeast Library May 5 Design Meeting

Community Comments

In Attendance: 

More than 50 Community members, DC Councilmember Charles Allen, staff from Quinn/Evans Architects, Whiting/Turner Construction, and DC Public Library staff.  

Welcome and introduction by Richard Reyes-Gavilan, Executive Director of DC Public Library. Introduction by Councilmember Allen. Slideshow led by architects Chuck Wray and Jeff Hoover where they explained two preliminary design options for the library. 

Questions and Comments

When will the Southeast Library close for the renovation work? 

The Southeast Library is on track to close at the end of 2022. We are still in the process of evaluating what the interim services will be and where they will be located. 

What considerations have been given for library users with impaired mobility? 

The accessibility of the building has been a priority throughout the design phase. The new entrance on South Carolina Avenue will be universally accessible. 

It is unacceptable to access the library from South Carolina Avenue. The front door of the library should be visible from the commercial zone of Eastern Market Metro Plaza. South Carolina is a residentially zoned and in the historic district. The light pollution from the entrance at night is untenable to the residents that face the library. 

We will still have the main entrance that faces the Eastern Market Metro Plaza and we expect that many people will want to use that entrance. There are questions that we will want to address regarding the South Carolina entrance, including safety and light, and we want to go back, look at the design, and address those issues for the next meeting. We understand your concerns and we will continue to refine the design of the entrance. 

It all looks so wonderful! 

If there are no public bathrooms in the area, by locating the South Carolina entrance around the corner from the public and Metro Plaza, you have created a bathroom area for people who circulate through the neighborhood at night. This will not be an acceptable location for our children’s library entrance. 

Again, like the earlier comment, we want to make sure the South Carolina entrance is safe, it respects the fact that it is a residential street, and we don’t want people sleeping there. There are ways to mitigate these issues through design. We will be addressing these issues with the team as we move forward. This is an important point for us to hear. 

The sloped entrance walls will conceal people from people walking along South Carolina Avenue. This is a big security concern. 

Again, we understand security is a crucial element to the design of the entrance. 

The mechanical systems needs to be located on the roof. The existing HVAC system is on-grade and it’s very loud. Now you are doubling or tripling the amount of cooling and the HVAC will now be located in an echo chamber. 

That is an excellent point to raise. We are looking at the acoustical considerations of the mechanical equipment. We have both an acoustical engineer as well as a very talented mechanical engineer to analyze the sound attenuation of the equipment. We want the design to be “good neighbor” design. We will continue to refine the mechanical court with this feedback in mind. 

At one point there was a proposal to go directly beneath the Eastern Market Metro Plaza.  What happened with that proposal? 

We studied that proposal going into this process. We realized it was not possible for a host of reasons, including proximity to Metro. We can accomplish the requirements of the new library within the existing footprint which we think this presentation demonstrates. 

What will be the meeting and study spaces in this design? I am concerned about having a quiet place to read and study in the library. 

The library is designed in zones. The upper floor will be quiet – an adult space for quiet activities. The ground level will be much more of an active space with rooms you can book to study. Having quiet spaces and active spaces are crucial to any of our library renovations and new construction. We will make this presentation available online where you can study the floor plan.  

Will there be solar panels or geothermal wells? 

This is an historic building and the design is dictated by preservation  guidelines. We are working to ensure the changes we make do not  interfere with the building’s historic character. Geo-thermal wells are not being considered because there is not the space; photovoltaic panels may be possible. We are exploring offsite green power and carbon offset credits as well. 

Is the Lactation Room still part of the plan? 

An earlier design included a staff wellness space, but with limited space that area has been designated as a small group study space.  

Will there be a teen library? 

That’s a good question and something we have discussed quite a bit. The  primary reason for there being a teen collection on the lower level is that is where we will have our teen librarians and the teen collection. We do not anticipate it being a ‘teen hangout’. Its been our experience that teens use our entire library buildings for the same great reasons the adults use them. The interior of the building has a flexible design. If we find in the patterns of use require a different floor plan, we can change the spaces and their use. 

This is an exciting and imaginative design offering many new opportunities. I am sorry for the loss for the opportunity to sit in a shaded green space. The plaza across the street is very exposed.  

According to a staff member in the councilman’s office, there will be two shaded  seating areas in the newly designed Eastern Market Metro Plaza. 

There should be public restrooms on the Eastern Market Metro Plaza. 

According to a staff member in the councilman’s office, Department of Parks and  Recreation is considering including public restrooms on the Metro Plaza.  

Will this renovation address the loitering that takes place on the main steps to the library’s entrance? 

The library, by being bigger, will be busier and that typically helps with issues around loitering. By virtue of the activation of the area that this new building will achieve, it is our experience, the loitering on the steps during library operating hours will not continue to be the issue it has been in the past. With completion of the new Eastern Market Metro Plaza, we anticipate that residents will once again be able to spend time in that space.  

Will the realignment of South Carolina down D Street change the public right-of-way and allow for a bigger ‘footprint’? 

That realignment is not part of the library’s project. It is part of the Metro Plaza  project. While the right-of-way along the south side of the building is now larger, we are still working within the historic guidelines of the building and cannot change its exterior. Also, we have, by expanding the building underground, maximized the building's footprint according to the lot size. 

It looks like the addition will abut my house and my backyard neighbor’s house. How will this be accomplished and what recourse will I have if there is any damage to my property? 

We’ve been working from the start with a local support and excavation specialist and a structural engineer to develop the best possible and safest plan to underpin and excavate that area as well as for the new construction. We will keep the immediate neighbors informed as the design is refined. Our goal is to avoid any damage to neighboring property, but there is a process to file a claim if damage occurs. 

Will the Friends continue to have book sales in the new building? 

Yes, we will continue to do what we can to support the work of the Friends. 

I have concerns about the noise from the mechanical systems and that the neighbors will be able to hear the noise. 

The library’s goal is to minimize any vibrations or harmonic frequencies that are  generated by the equipment. We are holding the design team to a very high  standard because we are committed to a high quality performance on the  acoustic front.  

Will there be an opportunity to discuss our concerns in a more traditional hearing format? We remain very concerned about a South Carolina entrance. We live 15 ft. from the proposed new entrance. Our children walk significantly out of the way to avoid the front steps of the library after seeing drug deals. We have even had a weapon thrown in our yard after a dispute at the library. We will no longer be able to avoid the entrance if it is right next to our door. I was not able to adequately express my concern through the online format and would like a more robust discussion about my concerns and what can be done. 

We appreciate that this is a virtual format and it can be difficult to feel that your feedback is being heard. We will continue to work with neighbors as the design continues to evolve. We are still early  in the design process. You have the recourse to keep us informed about your concerns and your input is crucial to the process. Give us some time to address your concerns and we will bring it back to the community at the next meeting.