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News from our Associate Members: BCWH

Photos by Chris Cunningham


The Varina Area 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.

The AIA and the American Library Association/Library Leadership and Management Association annually recognize excellence in library planning and design. The Varina Area Library, designed by BCWH in Richmond, VA in collaboration with Tappé Architects in Boston, MA, 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 that is accented with pops of color in 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.

About BCWH and Tappé Architects
BCWH and Tappé have a strategic partnership to bring the best in library design to the communities they serve. Both firms share the same values and  philosophies about client service and design excellence. BCWH’s strong project delivery approach and superior interior design capabilities are complimented by Tappé’s national expertise in planning and designing quality library environments. The two firms have successfully collaborated with Henrico County since 2008. In addition to the Varina Library, the team designed the Gayton Library renovation and the new Libbie Mill Library and are currently designing the County’s new Fairfield Area Library.  |  |

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Kelsey Cowan at 804.545.7647 | or Gerhard Mullican at 617.986.4864 |

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