Varina Area Library

The Varina Area Library in Henrico County, Virginia received a national design award by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and American Library Association (ALA) for the 2017 Library Building Awards, which recognize excellence in library architecture. The Library opened on June 1, 2016 and is a brand new 43,000 square foot building located on a 22 acre parcel of land in the rural, eastern section of Henrico County. The new state-of-the art-library replaces a small 6,000 square foot branch that served the Varina community for over 40 years.

Varina’s citizens wanted an active library that provided a “next generation” of library services. To create a hub for learning with sufficient quiet space, the library features several unique learning spaces and programmatic elements that facilitate project-based learning pedagogies. More casual learning spaces are integrated throughout the library in the form of private and group study rooms outfitted with mobile, adaptable furniture to promote various learning, working, and collaborating styles.

Designed in partnership with Boston firm Tappé Architects, the library’s design is rooted in the landscape and the 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 main library functions are housed in three pavilions that sit seemingly independently on the site. The library’s service and secondary functions are located adjacent to the pavilions in lower scale extensions – structures that re-interpret an addition to a typical utilitarian farm building.

Both the interior and exterior materials are inspired by materials found recurrently in the surrounding community. The palette is simple but rich: wood, stone, and metal. Inside, these elements are integrated with simple white walls and ceilings to shape the larger volumes of the pavilions. The end of each pavilion is terminated by a large expanse of glass that maximizes view and allows large amounts of natural light to bathe the interior. The furniture, light fixtures, and interior finishes organically reinforce the overall idea of a simple and refined building that converses with its natural setting. The project is designed to achieve LEED Silver Certification.

Recipient of the 2017 AIA/ALA Library Building Award