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Maude Langhorne Nelson Library In Downtown Hopewell

Hopewell, Virginia


Appomattox Regional Library System


35,800 sf


New Construction

The design of the Maude Langhorne Nelson Library, located in the City of Hopewell at the confluence of the Appomattox and James Rivers, celebrates the confluence of old and new, young and old, past and present, industry and environmental stewardship. The replica Good Ship Hopewell houses the children’s digital media area. Industrial smokestacks have been reimagined as “sunstacks” that bring natural daylight deep into the library. Exposed structure, mechanical ductwork and riveted metal panels are balanced by warm colors and sustainable materials.

The new library honors its heritage by taking inspiration for its exterior form from the large glazed openings, brick walls and painted steel framing of typical turn-of-the-century warehouses. The interior features exposed structure and mechanical ductwork as well as warm wood and brick tones.

Remember The Past With An Eye To The Future

Hopewell was founded in 1622 when the Good Ship Hopewell landed in what is now Virginia. The city grew into an industrial stronghold, with an abundance of warehouses and power plants.


A meandering “river” and a steel-framed spine with clerestory window system organize the plan, serving as the library’s main circulation path. A secondary “river” leads up to the regional library offices on the second floor, meandering through collaborative study spaces. The intersection of these two rivers represents the confluence of the Appomattox and James Rivers where Hopewell is situated.

Closing Thoughts

The Maude Langhorne Nelson Library celebrates Hopewell’s past while providing a view toward its sustainable future.