Southwest Library

Washington, DC
Pavilion on the Park

The new Southwest Library, a Design/Build project with Turner Construction, replaces the existing branch library. The new library achieved LEED Platinum certification for environmental design, integrating energy and water conservation strategies and environmentally responsive materials, sourced regionally.

An emphasis on connection to the surrounding community has shaped the design development process. The library’s design strives to highlight the new park adjacent to the project, provide a sense of arrival, feature a flexible pedestrian plaza, offer a sustainable site, maximize connection to the outdoors, and allow ample natural light.


While designing to LEED Platinum standards and using environmentally sensitive energy and water conservation strategies, the design team also drew on research that identified library trends toward increased gathering space, adaptable technologies that meet patron needs, and greater flexibility in space arrangement. The high-performance façade captures diffused northern daylight, maximize visibility to the building’s surroundings, optimizes energy conservation. and maintains comfort as the sun shifts by incorporating sunshades that respond to solar glare throughout the day.

“If I could conceive of the perfect library building to assist with pandemic recovery, it would have to include copious amounts of outdoor space, high ceilings, plenty of seating that is generously distanced, ubiquitous technology, and tons of meeting rooms. Of course, I've just described the spectacular new Southwest Library, an instant classic that reflects the very best of the Southwest Waterfront's mid-century architectural style.”

Richard Reyes-Gavilan, Executive Director of the DC Public Library

Expansive windows offer sweeping views of nature and the beauty of the surrounding park while flooding the interior with natural light.
Sustainable aspects include a living green roof to produce oxygen and absorb runoff, along with photovoltaic panels that collect solar energy.

Project Team

Carl Knutson
Nancy Gribeluk