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The issue: Washington Highlands residents are happy about getting a new library. But some want a lot more say in the process, including what it looks like. While the Mount Pleasant community had 12 design meetings before settling on a plan, Highlands has had only three. British ‘starchitect’ David Adjaye‘s eye-catching design, with its jutting pods and giant glass windows, has met with widely divergent reactions.
Proponent: Vera Abbott, president of the Bellevue Civic Association, loves the new design: “It’s airy and futuristic.”
Opponent: Chris Otten of District Dynamos says the whole process has been just another example of the “trickle down Fenty philosophy” in action. There was no collaborative brainstorming session or ‘charrette’ to engage the community in what he calls the “lie-brary.” “This could be the loss of a great opportunity to bring ‘lost communities’ together and celebrate a civic institution that could help lift people out of poverty.”
ANC 8D commissioner Olivia Henderson says she still wants Adjaye on board, but “the library they are trying to put up does not reflect the community we live in.”
Next step: ANC 8 commissioners are rallying together, and hope to have passed resolutions by the end of the month that call on the D.C. Public Library to renovate rather than rebuild.
(UPDATE: George Williams, DC Public Library spokesman, called to note that there weren’t only community meetings. They also had 5 focus groups, in which a total of 47 people participated, and another 90 locals responded to surveys.)