Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington
The 45,000 square-foot National Library for the Study of George Washington is sited on 15 acres within walking distance of President George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon. It serves as a national archive for his books and letters and as a center for education and scholarly retreat. The design of the library references the Mount Vernon estate by incorporating qualities that are familiar and appropriate, but without literal form or material reference. Well-proportioned architecture of stone, stucco, metal, and glass complements the estate while representing the strength, order, and dignity of Washington’s leadership.
The goal of the project was to create a timeless place that is elegant, ordered, and principled — qualities that allow the library and grounds to be, in subtle ways, reflective of the man and connected to the place.
The Washingtons’ collection of books is protected in the rare books and manuscripts room, a sequence of three increasingly secure spaces that culminate in a central oval vault.
Efforts were made to preserve existing trees, minimize site disturbance, manage stormwater, and control sediment. Narrow, 30-foot-wide floor plates allow daylight to penetrate the interior and reduce energy consumption. These sustainable design strategies for the LEED Gold-certified building and its site reflect the efforts of George Washington — landowner, scholar, and farmer.
The in-house graphic design team designed a fundraising brochure to peak the interest of donors in the new building. The brochure features a custom logo based on Washington’s signature and uses a color palette of blues and golds. Throughout this custom piece, type and images are organized in a thoughtful way as one moves throughout the building in print form. Renderings and descriptions bring the building to life.