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Public Spaces

Library victory in Shaw, Brooklanders still fighting for trees

In 2004, DC closed the the Watha T. Daniel library in Shaw and several other libraries, to replace the aging buildings with new, modern facilities. Though the interior drew some criticism, neighbors widely praised the open, airy glass design as a huge improvement over the prison-like, concrete, Brutalist original library.

Then, neighbors found out that the cost of the glass forced the library to cut back, replacing the glass facade with a concrete one that even replicated the vertical slit architecture of the original:

Left: The old library. Photo by Rob Goodspeed on Flickr. Center: Plan as of January 2008
with glass facade. Right: Plan as of June 2008 with concrete facade.

There's good news, though: Councilmember Jack Evans got involved and has convinced DCPL to return to a transparent design. (I'm sure the upcoming primary and strong challenge by Cary Silverman had something to do with it, especially given Silverman's strong advocacy on the library.) ANC 2C Commissioner Alex Padro met with Evans, DCPL director Ginnie Cooper, and the architect, Peter Cook. Cooper and Cook have reworked the plan to use a less expensive frosted glass in place of the originally-planned channel glass, enabling them to return to an all-glass design.

Meanwhile, activists in Brookland continue to push for underground power lines on 12th Street. The Washington Post had a good article on the issue, and neighbors have a Web site of their own.

According to the Post article, DDOT continues to argue that it's not their job to bury power lines, and Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. argues that it is. Thomas better be working hard to break this logjam, possibly enlisting Jim Graham with his DDOT oversight power, or else it'll soon be too late to do anything, if it isn't already.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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