Prince George's County Memorial Library System
Drive-Thru Returns, EV Charging, PV Array, Playground, Green Living Wall
Built on a unique historic urban site with deep and solid roots in the African American community, known as Emancipation Park, the new Laurel Branch Library provides a pedestrian friendly one story building that acknowledges the rich past of the region with its textured stone, celebrates the present with its dynamic diagonal lines accentuated by bold forms reflecting the innovation of the library system, and looks forward to the future with an attitude embedded in flexibility and discovery for the user of all ages.
The liveliest of spaces is the children’s wing, or “Discovery Island”—an exploration zone intended to encourage early literacy. Children enter via a cave-like opening in a stone wall, emerging onto a lush tropical island where they are greeted by reading nooks tucked into the greenery. Young readers navigate the stacks, following illuminated dinosaur tracks to discover a complete model Nanotyrannus skeleton, encased in the glass floor, and illuminated from within as though recently excavated.
Envisioned as a modern space for discovery and community rather than a repository for print media, Laurel Branch Library embraces its place in the community through transparency—dissolving the barriers between interior and exterior while providing an array of modern educational amenities. Its open, intuitive floorplan and comprehensive technology integration along with its pedestrian friendly location make Laurel Branch Library an accessible space for socializing and exploring educational resources.
The lush green living wall with variegated plants and drip irrigation brings the outside in and creates a relaxing and inspiring seating area in the Whisper Room. Private study and conference rooms serve as meeting spaces for groups of students and local organizations, and all user groups are valued with their own modern spaces including adult, teen, and children’s reading areas with specially selected, age appropriate features and furnishings.
Once dominated by its historic oak grove, Emancipation Park now features colorful playground equipment, a basketball court, gazebo, amphitheater, and water feature. Dedicated to its namesake holiday, the heart of Emancipation Park is its amphitheater, which plays host to Laurel’s annual Emancipation Day celebrations. The park’s ADA friendly circulation path unites its features with Laurel Branch Library and the adjacent Alice McCullough Recreation Center. Together, both the library and park create an expanse of sports, leisure, and educational amenities that allow the community to appreciate its past and take pride in the present, while investing in its future.
Grimm + Parker helped us achieve our vision for the building through a collaborative design process that always took our needs into consideration.
Associate Director for Administrative Services, Prince George’s County Library System
AIA + ALA