Historic renovation transforms onetime D.C. library
Apple has opened its newest location at the Carnegie Library on Mount Vernon Square in Washington, D.C. This is Apple’s most extensive historic restoration project to date, restoring and revitalizing the Beaux-Arts style building once home to Washington, D.C.’s Central Public Library. Originally funded by Andrew Carnegie and opened in 1903, the library will once again be a center for learning, discovery, and creativity for the community, keeping with Carnegie’s vision of a public and free space for all.
Apple Carnegie Library will host free daily Today at Apple programming, including sessions led by local artists and world class creators. To celebrate the opening, 40 artists will lead sessions during the six-week StoryMaker Festival. At the store, customers can explore Apple’s latest products and work with over 225 highly trained staff members offering advice and technical support, as well as assistance for small businesses.
“Whether customers come to explore new products, visit one of our Geniuses or unlock their creativity in a Today at Apple session, Apple Carnegie Library is a place for everyone,” says Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s SVP of retail + people. “We are excited to share this magnificent space with all of our visitors in Washington, D.C., and to provide a home for inspiration for the next generation.”
Carnegie Library on Mount Vernon Square also features the new DC History Center, which includes the Kiplinger Research Library, three galleries, and a museum store, all owned and operated by the 125-year-old Historical Society of Washington, D.C. To restore the building to its original grandeur, Apple worked with conservation experts to carefully preserve the historic facades, return interior spaces to their original footprints, and restore distinctive early 20th-century detailing. Foster + Partners worked in close collaboration with Apple’s Chief Design Officer Jony Ive to give this cultural icon a new lease of life.
“I love the synergy between old and new, the juxtaposition of the historic fabric and contemporary design,” says Ive. “In its ‘new’ phase of life, Apple Carnegie Library will be a way for us to share our ideas and excitement about the products we create, while giving people a sense of community and encouraging and nurturing creativity. It has been a significant honor to restore the Carnegie Library for the people of Washington, D.C.”
Visitors to Apple Carnegie Library are welcomed by a revitalized grand entry plaza on K Street, and a new grand entry staircase on Mount Vernon Place creates an inviting route through the building to the adjacent Convention Center and neighboring Shaw District. The library’s Vermont marble facade and sculptures on the south are completely restored.
A skylight that once illuminated the original library’s circulation desk in the heart of the building returns with a new design to transform the space into a soaring double-height atrium. The dramatic gathering space, called the Forum, is the new home for Today at Apple in Washington, D.C. Visitors can attend free daily sessions focused on photography, filmmaking, music creation, coding, design, and more.
For six weeks following opening, the StoryMaker Festival will bring together 40 artists, poets, activists, musicians, photographers, filmmakers, lawmakers and community builders to celebrate storytelling and inspire attendees to tell their own stories. The festival will conclude with a weekend block party to celebrate the stories the community has come together to share.
The area that housed the book stacks is now the Genius Grove where Apple’s team of Geniuses will offer personalized technical support and advice. A grand staircase leads to the DC History Center on the second floor and the Carnegie Gallery in the basement, which displays historic photographs and documents for the public to learn about the origins and history of the building.
Nearly half of the store’s employees are Washington, D.C., residents and others have joined from Apple stores across the region and country. The team speaks 27 languages, including more than 20 team members fluent in American Sign Language.