The Plan to Make the Folger Shakespeare Library More Accessible

by Nena Perry-Brown

Aerial rendering of the renovated Folger Shakespeare Library. Click to enlarge.

Changes are on the boards for a DC institution.

The Folger Shakespeare Library is seeking historic preservation approval for an interior and exterior renovation which intends to make the site more inviting and accessible to the public. The building at 201 East Capitol Street SE (map), designed by Paul Phillipe Cret, has been open since 1932.

Aerial rendering of the renovated Folger Shakespeare Library. Click to enlarge.

The proposed renovations, designed by Kieran Timberlake, would improve accessibility by relocating the main entrances, and will also make interior flow and access to archived materials more seamless, while expanding storage space for the institution's collections. Interior additions beneath the north terrace would add space for the public to view temporary and permanent exhibits as well as add visitor amenities, including a new bookstore, lockers, information desks and docents, and a box office.

Rendering of the east garden and entrance. Click to enlarge.

Sunken gardens, which will span both public and private space, will provide seating and shade; the fence around the east garden will be removed and a heritage magnolia tree will be relocated in the new west garden. The current primary entrances on the north terrace will be used as egresses and for service only, and there will be a marble ramp to make the terrace more accessible. 

Rendering of the lower west garden and entrance. Click to enlarge.

Currently, the only accessible entrance is a temporary metal ramp to the east entrance, and the interior of the building is oriented around several staircases. Visitors who are wheelchair-bound or have other accessibility needs must use a rear service entrance to get to the Reading Room and exhibit space, and cannot access the terrace or the bas-relief carvings on the north façade. 

Rendering of the lower west garden and entrance. Click to enlarge.

"The proposed renovation and addition makes significant progress towards many of these objectives and is especially focused on the important first step of enhancing the Folger’s openness and accessibility to a wider public and expanded visitorship," the filing states. "The project proposes new, universally accessible main entries, lobbies, visitor amenities, improved interior and exterior circulation, and redefined exhibition space for expanded programming."

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/a-closer-look-at-the-planned-renovations-for-the-folger-shakespeare-library/15458

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