As part of an effort to renovate nearly 20 of Washington, D.C. libraries, the newly reconstructed Woodridge Neighborhood Library, located in Ward 5, is set to open Sept. 28, three years after the old library closed.
The $16.5 million project, which marks the 16th completed venture, covers 20,000 square feet and includes a new large meeting room, two conference rooms and seating for 200 visitors.
In addition to 40,000 books, CDs, DVDs and 40 computers equipped with high-speed Wi-Fi, the Woodridge Library will be the first in the District to have a roof terrace serving as a space for library programming.
According to James Jones, the assistant project manager for construction and development firm Blue Skye, the construction provides a series of benefits including an open interior rich in natural light and great views of the park and neighborhood.
“There are several engaging features of the library, the exterior concrete sloped concrete walls accompanied by the orange metal panel areas creates a nice contrast to go along with the steel canopy at the roof level,” Jones wrote in an email to The Hoya. “I believe the library just enhances what is already present in the neighborhood but provides new perspectives to view it from while also providing a place to continue helping the community to learn, grow, and flourish together.”
The building is also equipped with a series of environmentally friendly features including the provision of achieving at minimum a Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Certification, which ranks projects as either certified, silver, gold or platinum. The project also includes a green roof to keep the building cool in the summer and reduce runoff during storms.
Library officials and community members selected the Woodridge Library’s architects, Wiencek & Associates and Bing Thom Architects, through a competitive bid process.
The Woodridge Library will be the first library Bing Thom Architects, well-known for its innovative design of the Surrey City Centre Library in Surrey, British Columbia. Wiencek & Associates will serve as the architect of record, and has also served as the architect of record for the new Francis Gregory and Bellevue libraries.
Coakley Williams, Inc. and Blue Skye Development handled the construction of the library and partnered to build it with the library’s mentor-protege program, which was developed with the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development. The mentor- protege program works to pair small, local businesses with larger businesses in order to get smaller businesses working on more government contracts. Through this program Blue Skye was contracted by Coakley Williams to provide additional construction management.
Furthermore, local high school students from the NAF Academy of Engineering, Phelps Architecture and Construction and Engineering High School had the opportunity to be directly involved with the construction of the Woodridge Library through an internship program.
Friends of the Woodridge Library President Sharon Turner pushed for the creation of the internship program and set up a meeting with library and school officials to facilitate its inception. To Turner, the program is just a natural consequence of Ward 5’s working as a community.
“I’m a native Washingtonian and I live in Ward 5 and Phelps is a high school which was very close to where I grew up,” Turner said. “And so it just seemed like Phelps is in Ward 5, the library’s in Ward 5, I spent most of my life in Ward 5, let’s see what we can put together here.”
Jones supervised the interns’ work on the project and emphasized how he particularly enjoyed sharing a contractor’s perspective with them.
“It was also gratifying to see them get hands on and successfully completing the same daily tasks and assignments as the project team in the office or field. Being able to witness their growth and hearing their plans to use their experiences they gained through the internship during their next school year was also rewarding,” Jones said in an email to The Hoya. “They were able to contribute to the library in their own neighborhood and show pride in that.”
Former program intern Williams Djepeno, a Morgan State University student, expressed how this opportunity provided him with essential insight into construction and architecture, his fields of interest.
“It impacted me a lot because it let me know what kind of direction that the people that are out there on this field [have] and how important communication is when it comes to the architect,” Djepeno said. “It showed me the responsibility that the architect must have, because he has to deal with the contractors on a day-to-day basis.”
With current construction coming to a close, the library staff is getting ready to celebrate with a grand opening party Oct. 1.
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