Tidewater Community College / City of Virginia Beach Joint-Use Library

Virginia Beach, Virginia

  • FIRM

    RRMM Architects


    Virginia Community College System

  • AREA

    124,937 sq.ft.





History and Process: Tidewater Community College and the City of Virginia Beach were each planning on building a library — directly across the street from each other. Recognizing this, the two partnered to create the first joint-use library of its size in Virginia. Conceived as a 124,000-square-foot building spread over two floors, the building ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONASSOCIATED FIRMCarrier Johnson + CultureCOST PER SQ FT$227.00CITATIONSpecialized Facility CitationFEATURED IN2014 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYSpecialized to its unique site (abandoned farmland of hedgerows and narrow fields) by connecting the interior and exterior into bars of open space.


The library successfully supports the college’s and city’s long-term strategic partnership by reconciling the unique mission of each institution into a shared vision of a truly integrated library, where any customer—whether a student, faculty member, or citizen of any age—would encounter seamless, quality library services. The library also fulfills the partners’ desire to develop an iconic learning center that serves as a catalyst for community development for both the city and campus. Flexibility, efficiency and sustainability were also major priorities.


Design: Four glass “crystals” representing an abstracted academic village bisect the building’s long curvilinear shape. The building is long and thin to maximize daylighting/views and to separate noisy activities from quiet study areas. The interior design is focused on unifying available services, making high-activity zones convenient, and creating technology-rich individual and group study destinations. Aligned in-between the hedgerows, the glass crystals form a stepped façade that allow north light in and create outdoor study gardens as extensions of the grand interior volumes.


The dramatic two-story entry, aligned with a pedestrian axis that connects library to campus, becomes a prominent visual marker and the genesis of an arced wall that protects the interior space from southern sun exposure. Upon entry, visitors enter Main Street, which connects all programmatic areas of the building. This two-story space provides visual awareness of desired destinations while also providing staff the ability to visually supervise along the building’s length. The interior character graduates from active/noisy along Main Street to cerebral/quiet near the north. A similar progression runs west to east and lower level to upper level.