Anacostia Neighborhood Library

Site and Context Analysis

The Anacostia Neighborhood Library is a new 23,000gsf facility located on Good Hope Road and 18th street in Southeast, Washington DC, one of the districts oldest historic neighborhoods. Anacostia has a rich Native and African-­‐American history and was once the home of statesman and abolitionist Fredrick Douglas, who is commonly referred to as “the Sage of Anacostia”.

Good Hope Road is a key artery which will tie the library to the dynamic urban development underway along the Anacostia River. These developments along with the library will be seen as catalyst for growth and positive change within the once neglected Anacostia community.

The large open green site allows for a unique opportunity to create a library in a park like setting. Precedent within the community lies with the Frederick Douglas house which is a notable historic residence located on a large green lot in Anacostia. Also, the park like setting will be preserved by saving a series of significant mature trees on the site. Most of the remaining context in Anacostia is street edge urban; low and mid-­‐rise construction made of brick with pitched and flat roofs. In addition to preserving significant green space, the library site plan also creates a responsible urban design response to Good Hope street. This edge along with parking for 20 cars on the east, will create a thoughtful hardscape plan which architecturally ties with the library to the parking and plaza areas. Conceptually the library bridges the green space and plaza spaces resulting in an integrated design solution. The design of the green space will also explore the possibility of managing storm water on the site through the design of a bio-­‐retention system thus pushing the project towards its LEED silver certification.

Building Design Concept

The library footprint spans the site from south to north as a parallelogram form and is centered on the site in the east /west direction. The site also slopes downhill from south to north approximately 12 feet. This planning concept creates a strong visual link between Good Hope Avenue and the residential areas to the north, east and west. The western half of the site is maintained as park and greenspace while the eastern half is maintained as plaza and hard scape.

The inspiration for the design of the Anacostia Neighborhood Library comes from the scale of the adjacent residential context. The scale and massing of these immediate residential blocks are reflected in the library design as rooms or solid volumes. These volumes are portions of the library program which require enclosure such as the Young Adult’s area, portions of the Children’s area and other program spaces such as staff areas and restrooms. The remainder of the level one plan is high ceiling open space housing library collections and public seating areas. This open space as well as the solid volumes of the plan, is covered by a large veil-­‐like roof which provides shelter and sense of community. This 20’ high veil-­‐like roof projects over the Good Hope Avenue plaza framing the large open interior space of the Library. The children’s area is the most visible element of the program beneath this overhang from Good Hope Avenue, thus reflecting learning and children as the symbolic heart of the community.

Massing and Program

Given the sloping of the site and the limitations for the footprint as driven by zoning regulations, the Library massing is conceived as a tall one and half story building stepping down the hill towards the north. Level one includes the primary public uses of the Library, which include Adult Studies and Computers, Children’s Services, Conference Rooms, Young Adults, and office and work space for administration. The main entry for this level is located on Good Hope Road. The entry for the lower level is located on U Place on the north end of the site. This level includes the large public meeting room as well as support space for the library. This level can be secured from the main floor at the stair.


The primary building materials are glass curtainwall, perforated metal panel for the roof and sunscreen, metal panel for the projecting “pavilions”, and polished concrete block for the building base. The structure is primarily steel framing.


Project Type


1800 Good Hope Road Southeast, Washington, 20020-4613, United States

Related links


  • The Freelon Group
  • R McGhee & Associates