Private in Public - Public in Private: A Library on H Street NE Washington, DC

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Virginia Tech

The thesis investigates private versus public space and the natural tendency for an individual to seek out its own place within a group. More specifically, the project studies whether private and public could not only occupy the same geographic space independently, but also activate one another.

A library was chosen as the program for its opportunity to serve as a "third place" in the community. A "third place" is a neutral ground that is neither a home nor workplace. The benefit of such a place is to stimulate conversation and interaction, to provide a way to either hide or be seen, and to encourage social cohesion as people meet that may not have through normal daily life.

The site is on the corner of 12th and H Streets NE in Washington, DC. Its location in a rebounding streetscape demands that the library give the surrounding context a large role in its design. Public space is a priority, and the building is porous to extend the exterior into the interior and vice versa. The library's ever-changing role in a city inspires flexibility in the design and a life beyond normal library hours.

third place, privacy, library, public