Varina Library Receives National Design Award

The Varina Library in Henrico County, Virginia receives a national design award from the American Institute of Architects and American Library Association.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and American Library Association (ALA) announced the winners of the 2017 Library Building Awards.

Since 1995, the AIA and the American Library Association/Library Leadership and Management Association have recognized excellence in library planning and design. The Varina Library was one of eight American and European libraries to receive this year’s prestigious Library Building Award.

The Library, which opened on June 1, 2016, is a new 43,000-square-foot building located on a 22-acre parcel of land in the rural, eastern section of Henrico County, Virginia. The new state-of-the-art library replaces a small 6,000-square-foot branch that served the Varina community for over 40 years.

The design of the Library reflects and reinforces the unique, local culture and history of the Varina district. The building and materials are reminiscent of the agrarian structures that once populated the area, borrowing on the form of a tobacco barn. The Library is configured to be a series of three pavilions emerging from and cascading down the site toward a protected wetland area. Both the interior and exterior materials are inspired by those found recurrently in the surrounding community. The end of each pavilion is enclosed by expansive glass walls that maximizes views, allowing natural light to bathe the interior. The project is designed to achieve LEED Silver Certification.

Configured for adaptability, the spatial connections between the Teen Collection, Collaboration Zone and Digital Media Lab allow the spaces to flex over the course of a day to accommodate emerging entrepreneurs, seniors, teens, and tech-savvy patrons. At the opposite end of the Library, the Silent Study pavilion is immersed in daylight, and the natural environment surrounds patrons who desire a place for focused concentration. The Children’s Collection has a “floating” story and craft pavilion, accented with pops of color, which children can access through a great “barn door.” Spilling from the Welcome Zone to the Reading Landing, cascading seating steps become an informal amphitheater when the oversized screen lowers in front of the two-story glass wall that frames the woods and walking trails.

The Varina Area Library was designed by BCWH in Richmond, VA, in collaboration with Tappé Architects in Boston, MA.