| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn RSS Feed

Development News

Northeast Library re-opens Monday after multimillion renovation

To the delight of its neighbors, the Northeast Library reopened on Monday, February 3.
The Georgian Revival building at 330 7th Street NE, which dates to 1932, has been closed since 2011 for a thorough interior renovation. Whiting-Turner was the contractor of record.
By scouring the original blueprints to the building and examining historic photos, DCPL, in concert with DC-based Bell Architects (which also did the renovation of Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital) and Vines Architecture, were able to revive once obscured historic details, says Chris Wright, project manager for the $10.2 million renovation.
“We had only one of the original reader tables left,” Wright says by way of example. “But we had new tables made that match it” almost to a T – with one modern convenience added: power strips for library computers or patrons’ own digital devices.
Other modern touches: the addition of cork floors, which are not only environmentally sustainable but dampen the sound of footfall as patrons move throughout the building, and the building in of a complete security system, with cameras in every public space.  Bike racks and a far more efficient HVAC system have been added, as have bathroom sinks and lights that operate by sensor, pushing the library in a greener direction.
DCPL took pains to preserve and reuse as much of the old building materials as possible, Wright says. Walnut panels from the old circulation desk have been refitted into the new desk, and an elevator shaft making use of former window casings has also been added.
Pre-renovation, the location of stairs to the upper levels were not always obvious to a library visitor, Wright says. “We knew we wanted to create a better way to get upstairs.” Thus a three-story glass enclosed stairway has been added, bringing light to the west side of the building.
A large basement meeting room has also been added, with space for about 100 people. Other smaller meeting rooms elsewhere in the building can accommodate 2, 10 or 20 individuals, Wright says.
The second-floor children’s area features a large read-aloud space and newly deepened shelves – the better to hold the oversized tomes that are typical of children’s books today, far less so in the early decades of the 20th century.
The contrast between the lemon soufflé-tinted walls – a color chosen for its period accuracy – and the library’s cleaned and restored walnut-colored woodwork is striking.
The building and some of its original furnishings were designed by Albert L. Harris, once the city’s municipal architect. He’d be awed, no doubt, by the enhancements DCPL has made.
A ribbon-cutting is slated for February 3 at 10am, while a grand opening party has been scheduled for February 8, with special performances, story time and tours running from 10am to 2pm.
Exterior work on the building was completed in 2010. In a plaque facing Maryland Ave. NE, a sign for the library in Harris’ own hand can still be seen.

Read more articles by Amy Rogers Nazarov.

Amy Rogers Nazarov is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist with more than 25 years experience as a staff reporter and a freelance writer, covering technology, adoption, real estate, and lifestyle topics from food & drink to home organizing. Her byline has appeared in Cooking Light, The Washington Post, Slate, Washingtonian, The Writer, Smithsonian, The Washington Post Express, The Baltimore Examiner, The Sacramento Bee, Cure, The Washington Times, Museum, and many other outlets. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists & Authors and tweets at @WordKitchenDC.
Signup for Email Alerts
Signup for Email Alerts

Related Project