Mount Rainier Library Feasibility Study

The discussion applies to a building design which has been abandoned by the developers.

Summary Report

Narrative Description

Bennett Frank McCarthy Architects, Inc., was retained by The Friends of the Mt. Rainier Library, Inc. (F.O.L.) to conduct this study. Work began on the study in July. 2001. From the beginning, it was assumed that the Library would occupy space within the proposed Artspace artist' housing, a schematic design of which was made public at the beginning of this study. The tasks of the study were defined as follows:

  1. Identify and define Community needs, interests and preferences for its library.
  2. Translate these requirements into a space program.
  3. Assess locations for the program within the proposed Artspace building.
  4. Recommend a suitable configuration and location for the Library.

Secondary tasks of the study were to:

  1. Assess the operating feasibility of the proposed library.
  2. Outline a strategy for fundraising.

Mr. Thomas Costello was retained as a subconsultant to perform tasks 5 and 6.

Mt. Rainier Library Feasibility Study, April 1, 2002

Bennett Frank McCarthy Architects, Inc.

Dream a Library

On July 21, the first Public Forum was held at which public opinion was sought concerning the Library and its possibly associated facilities. Bennett Frank McCarthy then established a space program and possible layouts for the Library. The program agreed to include the following functions:

The entire collection of spaces was called the Library Center. It is also referred to as the Library and the Non-Library spaces.

At this time, the Artspace building schematic design (by hga architects from Minneapolis) showed a Ground Floor "commercial space" at the Rhode Island Avenue (Ground Floor) level which was 75' deep with frontage on Rhode Island Avenue to the northwest and exposure to a deck to the southeast which would have been elevated one floor above parking (the site grades drop south of Rhode Island Avenue).

A Prototype Plan

Bennett Frank McCarthy Architects developed a plan which was shown to the public at public Forum #2 on September 8. See attached plan with that date. Public reception was generally favorable.

This plan was reviewed by Ms. Maralita Freeny, Director of the Prince George's County Libraries and agreed to in principle.

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Click here for Forum #2 Library Plan.

Mt. Rainier Library Feasibility Study, April 1, 2002

Bennett Frank McCarthy Architects, Inc.

The Double Height Plan

In Mid-September, design development of the Artspace building changed the possible configurations of the library. The Ground Floor (Rhode Island Avenue) retail was reduced in depth from 75' to 44'; the remainder of the depth of the plan at this level was devoted to housing. This meant that obtaining south light for a library plan at the Ground Floor was no longer possible-this was a matter of great concern for the Friends of the Library.

Bennett Frank McCarthy Architects then developed 8 location possibilities for the Library within the revised building plans. After much discussion and consideration by F.O.L., a plan was proposed by Bennett Frank McCarthy Architects in late October, 2001. The plan dropped the Library Center to the lower level, while developing a double height space at the Rhode Island Avenue side permitting the admission of natural light, view and access from the street. Lower level access is available along with natural light from the parking area behind the building. See attached plans and section dated 10.29.01 for this concept.

The Cafe will, it is hoped, occupy the corner retail space at the ground floor and be leased by Artspace. A Meeting Room will be provided by Artspace at the third floor. The Media and Classroom spaces would be located below the cafe in at the corner at the lower level next to the Public Toilets.

This plan was agreed to by Artspace and was incorporated into the hga drawings for the building. Further work was suspended while the Developer and FOL awaited the decision on Tax Credits for the project. And on the Legacy Grant application which had been made by Gateway CDC with F.O.L. in late summer.

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Mt. Rainier Library Feasibility Study, April 1, 2002

Bennett Frank McCarthy Architects, Inc.

Design Development

Tax Credits were awarded the project in December. The F.O.L. received notice of a Legacy Grant on December 12. On January 23, a public meeting was held at which Artspace presented its building to the public; the Double Height Plan for the Library was a part of the presentation for which Bennett Frank McCarthy Architects made a physical model.

Final Arrangement

As hga has developed the design of the Artspace building in mid- and late March, 2002, several new rcquirements havc somewhat changed the configuration of the Library, though the principles of the Double Height Plan remain.

1. hga has determined that heating and ventilation arrangements make servicing spaces cast and west of the main building corridor from a single machine impractical. Since efficient management dictates conditioning the Library Center spaces from a single unit, the Media and Computer classroom spaces were not practically located east of the building core. In addition, funding sources for the Library Center buildout remain uncertain - these two spaces have, therefore, been eliminated from the program, at least for now. Future strategies for providing these spaces may include using unused or underused lower level space.

2. Structural shear walls are required in two locations in the lower level which affect the transparency of walls which were intended to be glazed - shear walls must be mostly solid. The plans has been altered slightly to remedy the resulting problems. Bennett Frank McCarthy Architects plan dated April 1, 2002, represents the latest version of the Library Plan.

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Click here Physical Model.

Click here Physical Model Front (Rhode Island Ave.)

Click here Floorplan.


  • Bennett Frank McCarthy Architects, Inc.