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District of Columbia Public Library - Tenley-Friendship Library

The Freelon Group

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The Freelon Group, The Freelon Group

Project Name

District of Columbia Public Library - Tenley-Friendship Library

Project Status


Year Completed



21,472 sq. feet

Certifications and Designations

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Project Description

Derived from the image of an open book, the design of Washington DC’s Tenley-Friendship Neighborhood Library showcases contrasting opacity and transparency. The building’s windowless exterior on the south and west sides wraps and protects the library akin to the cover of a book. In contrast, the north and east elevations of the building exhibit a transparent, visually porous skin, welcoming pedestrians traveling along Wisconsin Avenue and Albemarle Street. Perforated vertical fins are positioned along the length of these facades, allowing for shading while reinforcing openness and accessibility. This approach provides the reading rooms and stack areas with diffused natural light and minimal glare.

The 23,000 sf program for the Library is configured as a two-story building with a partial third floor mechanical space and a roof terrace/garden. The “active and fast” elements of the program are located on the first floor while “slower and quieter” areas of the program are situated on the second floor. Enclosed elements of the program such as the workroom, toilets and meeting rooms are located to the west side of the plan, allowing the eastern half to remain open with high-ceilings in the stack and seating areas. A double-height atrium with a monumental stair serves as the nexus for all building circulation.
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