David Adjaye to Design Two DC Libraries for His Second Major US Contract


Well, okay, please forget everything we’ve been saying for the last few days, because apparently, depending on where you look, it’s either the whole world is collapsing in a huge, financial puddle or there’s plenty of money to go around to build flashy new things from hot shot architects. Such is the case today, as it’s been announced that plans have been finalized to have starchitect David Adjaye start work on his second major contract in the US: designing two libraries in the DC area to replace a couple of aged branches in need of an update. But, because Adjaye isn’t just some regular old architect you find in the phone book, his new plans are for “Idea Stores” instead of the “libraries” we common folk get our readin’ books from. But to be fair, Adjaye didn’t come up with that name and we’re all for supporting building bigger and better libraries, particularly if they get used. Here’s a bit:

Adjaye is sensitive to concerns that the new facilities must still be libraries, rather than community centers. “The book is central, part of the DNA of this whole story,” he says.

But the grand, classical designs of libraries built a century ago — “palaces” for the people, he says — were part of a strategy of public elevation that is no longer relevant. What matters more is access, and options.

“Architecture is almost like a telephone book,” he says, filled with possibilities.

And so we’ve come full circle, back to this phone book idea. Well played, Adjaye. Well played indeed.