Back to Nature

Atlee Library

Atlee Library

Pamunkey Regional Library System
Hanover County, Virginia

This new library creates a calming oasis within a bustling commercial context. Located at the edge of a busy shopping center, Atlee Library invites patrons to slow down and reorient to the natural world.

We set the main door back from the front façade, requiring patrons to pass through a landscaped courtyard rather than entering directly from the parking lot. Glazed on three sides, this threshold space both provides a preview of the library’s layout and signals a departure from the commercial context.

Inside, patrons are met with views of an adjacent wooded area. Book collections inhabit the central spaces; reading, gathering, and activity areas are clustered on the north and east sides of the building, where large windows let in daylight and connect to the forest outside.

Back to Nature
Everything is wonderfully spaced out and it looks bright and welcoming. There are lots of areas to just sit and relax.
An interior photo of the library atrium.

Designed for Discovery

Many of the library’s interior walls are glazed, allowing patrons to see into adjacent spaces. This visual openness encourages curiosity and exploration by putting the library’s various services and functions on display.

An exterior photo of the outdoor terrace.

Extending Outdoors

A reading terrace extends the adult reading and collaboration area outdoors and creates a space for louder public programs like music performances.

A photo showing the trellis above the entry courtyard.

Energy-efficient Design

To prevent solar heat gain and keep the library’s energy use low, we used reflective roof and pavement surfaces; placed the largest areas of glazing on the building’s north façade, which gets the least direct sunlight; and screened the entry courtyard with an overhead trellis.

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