When Architects Attack: Ward 8’s New Proposed Library


Washington Highlands has a new library coming to the Southwest DC neighborhood. Designed by British architect David Adjaye, it sports an ultra-modern look and floor plan where apparently right angles are hard to come by. The project rendering appears to be quite out of place for DC and will stir up probably the same sentiments about the Frank Gerhy Corcoran extension or Eisenhower Memorial Award.

As the rare, neo-classical loving architecture guy, I think it is reminiscent of a preschool meets the design studio project of a sophomore architecture school student who loves Zaha Hadid.

Apparently I’m not alone as the neighborhood has been speaking out against the design as well. Adjaye has countered these complaints by stating that “Modernity need not be a frightening thing.” Modernity, Mr. Adjaye, isn’t frightening in and of itself, nor should it be barred from use in the design of this library. But something utilizing a more austere form would be welcome. For example, the Bibliotheque Nationale de France (photos: [1] [2]).

According to their website, Adjaye Associates is also designing a library to replace the existing Francis Gregory facility which at least has some remote archetypal connection to the Kennedy Center and Lincoln Memorial (and therefore the classical temple).

John has lived in DC since attending CUA’s Architecture school starting in 1995. He is a UI/UX/Design guru for LivingSocial and also plays in numerous bands (Juniper Lane, Rotoscope, Boboroshi & Kynz) and loves hyping people on eating local food, sustainable human settlement patterns, gardening, and good old fashioned rock and roll and electronica. He runs the dirt lab (aka mega garden) for WeLoveDC, where he eats most of the proceeds.

3 thoughts on “When Architects Attack: Ward 8’s New Proposed Library

  1. Dear DC: If you want to see what modernist architecture does to our city’s aesthetic, look nor further than DEO or HHS. They’re nightmares in the midst of neo-classicism.

  2. Assuming “DEO” means the Department of Education?

    Neither DOE nor HHS buildings are modernist. They are brutalist.