The Varina Area Library, which opened on June 1, 2016, is a brand new 43,000 square foot building located on a 22 acre parcel of land in the rural, eastern section of Henrico County. The new state-of-the art-library replaces a small 6,000 square foot branch that served the Varina community for over 40 years.
Designed by BCWH Architects, in partnership with Boston firm Tappé Architects, the library’s design is rooted in the landscape and the history of the Varina district. The building and materials are reminiscent of the agrarian structures that once populated the area. Borrowing on the form of a tobacco barn, the main library functions are housed in three pavilions that sit seemingly independently on the site. The library’s service and secondary functions are located adjacent to the pavilions in lower scale extensions – structures that re-interpret an addition to a typical utilitarian farm building.
Both the interior and exterior materials are inspired by materials found recurrently in the surrounding community. The palette is simple but rich: wood, stone, and metal. Inside, these elements are integrated with simple white walls and ceilings to shape the larger volumes of the pavilions. The end of each pavilion is terminated by a large expanse of glass that maximizes view and allows large amounts of natural light to bathe the interior. The furniture, light fixtures, and interior finishes organically reinforce the overall idea of a simple and refined building that converses with its natural setting.