Apple Carnegie Library wins American Architecture Award in restoration and renovation cate...

in General Discussion
Architecture studio Foster + Partners has received an American Architecture Award for its renovation and revitalization of the Carnegie Library of Washington D.C., which now hosts Apple Carnegie Library.

Image Credit: Athenaeum of Photography
Image Credit: Athenaeum of Photography

Opened in 1903, the building served as Washington D.C.'s first public library and its first desegregated public building. The building, initially designed by Ackerman & Ross, is well known for its Beaux-Arts style that draws heavily from French neoclassicism, gothic, and Renaissance elements.

The building had fallen into disuse between the turn of the twenty-first century and 2017 when Apple began renovating the library into the city's second Apple Store location, Apple Carnegie Library.

The renovation was undertaken by Foster + Partners, a British international architecture design headquartered in London. The renovation took approximately two years, with the location reopening in May 2019.

We are delighted Apple Carnegie Library is a 'Winner' at this year's American Architecture Awards.

-- Foster + Partners (@FosterPartners)

The interior has been renovated using materials fitting the historical surroundings and inspired by the distinctive twentieth-century detailing. It is also notable for its effort in sustainability -- the building features reintroduced natural ventilation and "makes generous use of daylight," according to the American Architecture Awards' writeup.

Like many of Apple's retail locations, Apple has hosted free "Today at Apple" sessions focused on photography, music production, coding, and videography within the store. Apple also filmed the first episode of "Oprah's Book Club" for Apple TV+ at the location as well.

Also housed in the building is the D.C. History Center, located on the second floor, as well as the Carnegie Gallery, located in the basement.


  • Reply 1 of 3
    BeatsBeats Posts: 3,073member
    Love it when Apple wins in categories outside of tech. What a great company.
  • Reply 2 of 3
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    I got a chuckle out of:  "They reintroduced natural ventilation" -- likely meaning windows that actually open!   What a technological marvel!   LOL....

    But I am glad that they restored this building,
    Every American should study its history and what led up to its construction.  Namely:
    Carnegie and his partner Frick built the greatest steel empire the world had seen (Ultimately it morphed into U.S. Steel).   It was one of several entities that powered the American Golden Age of industry and, without it, we would never have built the industrial might that we did.   So, it is one of the pillars that this country stands on today....

    But, Carnegie Steel was ruthless -- not just in business but with its employees.   At its main mill the company controlled everything about a workers life (including local government).   When workers didn't toe the line they would just fire them and bring in new -- often from some European country.   When workers tried to form unions they were physically squashed -- often with violence.   Once the company brought in hired militia and a gun battle ensued.   Later, State Militia occupied the town till the uprising died off.

    Workers worked long, hard hours usually 6 days a week 12 hours a day in very dangerous conditions.   But, life was cheap.

    The ruthless one was mostly Frick.   Carnegie tried to lift up the lives of those they oppressed by stressing education and backing it with his libraries and centers of culture.

    This is where we came from.   It is our roots.  And this building grew out of the sweat, tears, misery and death of Carnegie Steel.
  • Reply 3 of 3
    Fact checks: 
    (1) the Washington Public Library (as it was called when it opened) was NOT the first “desegregated” but rather the first “fully-integrated” public building in DC when it opened in 1903. Early in its history the library staff was segregated for a short period. 
    (2) it served as the main branch of what would become the District’s library system for almost 70 years. 
    (3) fell into disuse from 1970 until 1999, when Congress awarded a 99-year lease to the Historical Society of Washington, DC. The building is owned by the city, the square is Federal property. 
    (4) The Historical Society’s attempt to convert the library into a urban museum failed after less than one year. Poorly executed and without sustained support from funders and the City, the Historical Society struggled to meet the expense of maintaining the structure’s aging disrepair. 
    (5) EventsDC (convention and sports facilities operator) took control of the administration of the building and the Historical Society reduced its footprint to about 30% of the structure. 
    (6) The building was used as an events space for rent by EventsDC from 2011-2017, often at the expense of the Historical Society’s ability to remain free and open to the public. 
    (7) In 2017, Apple entered an agreement to restore the building for an undisclosed rental fee for 10 years for a major Apple store and refitting the Historical Society’s footprint on the second floor. 
    (8) the new DC History Center has been lauded as the Historical Society’s most successful chapter in its 125 + year history and will remain in the building until 2098. 

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