- 2017 AIA/ALA Library Buildings Award, Varina Area Library
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and The American Library Association (ALA) developed the AIA/ALA Library Buildings Award programme to encourage and recognise the fundamental part that libraries play as learning centres and as architectural excellence in their respective communities.
We'll be showcasing each of the eight recipients, starting with the Varina Area Library in Virginia which bridges landscape, vernacular architecture and the community's needs.
Located in Henrico, one of the oldest counties in the United States, and the site of numerous battles during the American Civil War, the Varina Area Library serves the nearly 300,000 cardholders in this agrarian community south-east of Richmond. It is situated on an area of 89,000 square metres where there used to be a private residence, and the space allowed the architects from BCWH with Tappe Architects to craft a series of pavilions to host the library's different functions.
The sleek buildings follow the lay of the land and evoke the traditional tobacco barns.
The library engages with its natural environment, and daylight plays a fundamental part in all the areas, including shared spaces, like the large community room and teaching kitchen through to the more private reading rooms. The intuitive floor plan and configuration maximise views and are convenient for independent access to information.
The natural setting was left untouched as much as possible and the landscaped areas that were developed feature native plantings and meadow grasses. A small lawn in front of the library can be used for farmers' markets and concerts.
The Varina Area Library in Henrico, Virginia by BCWH with Tappe Architects stands out as a local cultural and architectural benchmark, where ties with the land are manifested throughout the design.
Associated Architect: Tappe Architects
Audiovisual systems design: The Sextant Group
Building envelope consultant: WDP & Associates
Cost estimating: Construction Cost Systems
Engineering (civil): VHB
Engineering (mechanical, plumbing, and electrical): Ascent Engineering
Engineering (structural): Dunbar Milby Williams Pittman & Vaughan
General contractor: Kenbridge Construction Corporation
Landscape architecture: Waterstreet Studio
Sustainability: Sustainable Design Consulting
Location: Henrico, Virginia, USA
Photography: © Chris Cunningham – courtesy of AIA
Recipient 2017 AIA/ALA Library Buildings Award