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The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon

Ayers Saint Gross

Shared By

August King

Project Name

The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon

Project Status



Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association


  • General Contractor: Whiting Turner Contracting Company
  • Landscape Architect: Michael Vergason Landscape Architects
  • Civil Engineer: Rummel Klepper & Kahl
  • Structural Engineer: Cagley & Associates
  • Mechanical Engineer: Mueller Associates

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Project Description


George Washington intended to build a library for his papers, but that plan was only realized in 2013. The National Library for the Study of George Washington is the national archive for knowledge about our first president’s legacy. The 45,000 square-foot library, sited on 15 acres within walking distance of Washington’s home, Mount Vernon, serves as a national archive for his books and letters and as a center for education and scholarly retreat. The design of the Library references Washington’s Mount Vernon estate by incorporating qualities that are familiar and appropriate, but without literal form or material reference. Well-proportioned architecture of stone, stucco, metal, and glass complements the Mount Vernon estate while representing the strength, order, and dignity of Washington’s leadership. Narrow, 30-foot-wide floor plates connect users to the bucolic landscape. The goal was to create a timeless place that is elegant, ordered, and principled – qualities that allow the Library and grounds to be, in subtle ways, both reflective of the man and connected to the place.

Jury Comments:
The jury felt the Fred W Smith National Library was a well-crafted high quality project. Material choices are substantial enough to hold up well and the design is stately yet comfortable in its bucolic setting. The Library is a well conceived project that honors the Washington legacy with a timeless well scaled building.
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