Interplay of transparent and invisible Architecture

Interplay of transparent and invisible Architecture

Francis Gregory Library

New Francis Gregory Library by Adjaye Associates breaks with the idea of traditional, closed library buildings.

At the northeastern edge of Davis Park in Washington D.C., adjacent to Fairfax Village settlement, new Francis Gregory Bibliothek was completed in July 2012. After the demolishing of the old library there was room for a modern building. Requirements were: flexibility, barrier-freedom and an inviting overall appearance. All this has been realized by the architects from Adjaye Associates in a way that made the library not only a place for books, but also for social and cultural elements.

Wooden Craziness

The Adjaye Associates architects have created a pavilion with a very unusual façade placed in front, allowing “insights” on the one hand, but also manages to adjust to its surroundings. From a steep angle you look at the glazed outer façade, and the 22,500 m2 large building seems to disappear. The park, reflected in the transparent façade front, remains visible.

Also the southern façade with the entrance area is permeable. Here, you get insights into the inside of the building. And here, you can also recognize the special details of the façade: It is a diamond-shaped wooden construction, providing exciting turns of open and closed areas thanks to the gaps. The change of light, caused by the sunroof, makes the façade shimmer and creates an iridescent appearance of the library.

The sunroof placed on top, made of a steel grid construction, makes use of the diamond pattern and provides shadow for the building through additional lamellae without making it too dark. Through a projection the sunroof creates a forecourt towards the southern street side.

Colorful Interior

A network of square-shaped openings inside frames the gazes wandering from the library out across the park. Some openings are so deep that they can be used as seats.

The double-story building is divided into three theme areas, designed very differently: Hence, the materials timber and glass dominate the area of adults as well as the colors black and white. Plain and open elements characterize the conference rooms.

The area for teenagers is colorful and contains all basic colors. It is also enriched by e.g. lamp shades from Third World-countries.

A peculiarity in the kids’ area are the functional seats which can not only serve as things to sit on, but also as oversized building blocks. Low shelves, plenty of colors as well as a clear room structure make kids want to spend time here.

The idea Adjaye Associates had in mind: A lively room design opens up new ways to discover books and to turn reading into an event. The architects refrained from the traditional, closed way libraries are built usually, and created open, round and angular modern event rooms.

Treading new Paths pays off

Thanks to its sustainable way of construction,10.3 million EuroFrancis Gregory library has received the American LEED Silver Certificate. Respecting and integrating the surrounding vegetation, the connection to the public transport system as well as some ecological features such as using recycled materials, were part of the sustainable design. However, for certification the major role was mainly energy-efficient planning of the lighting and cooling system. The high percentage of natural lighting and the sunroof providing shadows result in great savings in the energy balance.

Project details


Adjaye Associates


Year of construction: 2012


22,500 sqm


Capital Projects


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pepdealc's picture
pepdealc 24. January 2014 - 18:11

Im obliged for the blog article.Thanks Again. Much obliged.

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