Connecting to Context

Varina Library

Varina Library

Henrico, Virginia

Our design for this new library embraces its local history and natural setting while supporting state-of-the-art resources and programming. Envisioned as a place for both individual transformation and community advancement, the building reflects the library’s mission, the community’s heritage, and the natural environment.

Three pavilions inspired by tobacco barns emerge from and cascade down a steep hill. The pavilions create distinct areas for adults, teens, and children, with stacks and collaboration areas tailored to the needs of each audience. The pavilions are linked by gathering spaces like the Reading Landing, which provides tiered seating for large public programs. Expansive windows and multiple reading terraces overlook an adjacent wetland, creating indoor/outdoor connections.

Connecting to Context
We aim to anticipate and respond to the needs of a diverse community and improve the quality of individual and community life for everyone.
A photo of the library's exterior, designed to have a palette of warm woods, natural stone, and earth-toned metals.

Virginia Vernacular

In keeping with the architectural heritage of its rural setting, the library’s design recalls the form and materials of local tobacco barns. The exterior palette of warm woods, natural stone, and earth-toned metals extends indoors, where it is complemented by biomorphic textiles and light fixtures.

A photo of an elegant room with various gathering spaces that promote sharing of ideas and innovations.

Tailored to the Community

As libraries redefine themselves for the 21st century, library planners often talk about a shifting spectrum of emerging service models. We strove to discern elements of library design that embody ideas, initiatives, and innovations suited to both the Henrico County Public Library and the Varina community.

A photo of a quiet reading area that features views of nature located at the rear of building.

Meeting Patrons Where They Are

Our design recognizes that patrons want different levels of engagement with the library at different times. The stacks are easily accessible from the entrance for quick browsing. Small group rooms flank the stacks. Quiet reading areas featuring views of nature are located at the rear of the building.

A photo of the reading landing, containing a high ceiling and seating that faces large windows.

The Reading Landing

The Reading Landing flows down from the entry level to the lower-level children’s area and community room. This in-between space provides a place for chance encounters, informal gatherings, and public programs like lectures and film screenings.

A photo of children picking out books from bookshelves and reading from brightly colored seats.

Sustainable Design

The pavilions are oriented to maximize views of the adjacent forest and wetland. Deep overhangs shade the large south-facing windows, and a high-albedo roof reflects sunlight – features that keep the library cool and energy efficient. The drought-tolerant landscaping requires no irrigation.

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