Alexandria, VA, United States

The several programmatic functions of the 45,000-square-foot Charles E. Beatley, Jr. Central Library are composed as distinctive volumes around a semi-public courtyard, creating a massing strategy reminiscent of a village square. The library has two primary facades, one forming the entrance from Pickett Street, and the other providing a public presence along Duke Street. The building is topped by a dozen roofs that recall the community’s roots in Old Town. The resulting silhouette symbolizes the first step toward the city’s master plan goal of establishing a new civic center on the west side of Alexandria. The interior of the library is open in plan. However, the various departments are distinguished by the configuration of the ceilings, which reflect the distinctive roof structures.