May 26, 2022

After $30 Million Renovation Carnegie Library of Washington DC Reopens as the Apple Carnegie Library

The official opening ceremony took place today. For those of you who will be attending the ALA conference in DC in late June, the Apple Carnegie Library is locate one block from the DC Convention Center. 

Coverage and Resources

From the Official News Release:

On Saturday, May 11 at 10:00 a.m., Mayor Muriel Bowser and Events DC celebrated the opening of Apple Carnegie Library to the public.  This is Apple’s most extensive historic restoration project to-date, restoring and revitalizing the Beaux-Arts style building once home to Washington, DC’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. 

Read the Complete News Release

From Apple:

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.

Source: Apple

Source: Apple

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.

Source: Apple

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. 

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.

Read the Complete Announcement

Media Reports

Tim Cook Hopes Apple’s $30 Million Rehab Of D.C.’s Carnegie Library Will Do More Than Sell iPhones (via Washington Post)

Cook’s team declined to share details of how much the company spent on the project, but preliminary budget details shared with The Washington Post called for more than $30 million of work, including $7 million toward facade restoration, $300,000 to restore the stairwells and $2 million in site work and landscaping. On top of that, Apple agreed to lease the building — which has been nearly vacant for years — for $700,000 a year on a 10-year lease.

Cook said that reconstituting the Carnegie Library according to its original design standards was the company’s “most historic, ambitious restoration by far, in the world.” This from a company that has retrofitted stores in New York’s Grand Central Terminal and a 130-year-old former bank in Paris.

Cook said that reconstituting the Carnegie Library according to its original design standards was the company’s “most historic, ambitious restoration by far, in the world.” This from a company that has retrofitted stores in New York’s Grand Central Terminal and a 130-year-old former bank in Paris.

He said such signature projects will help the company showcase its new services through classes and programming the company calls Today at Apple.

But the Carnegie project is also aimed at achieving a higher purpose at the company, which is to deepen customers’ affiliation of Apple with something positive — creativity — at a time when the public finds itself increasingly at odds with big-tech companies over jagged political issues surrounding economic inequality, social media and privacy.

Read the Complete Article

The Problem with D.C.’s New Apple Store (via CityLab)

For Apple fanatics in D.C., the Apple Carnegie Library is a win. Consumers are bound to appreciate the convenience of a downtown store even if they never take in the corporate programming.

It’s a plus for others as well. Apple fronted the cost for a renovation of the former Carnegie Library building, a boon for its preservation. Apple built a new home for the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., the longtime tenant of the building. And an Apple store makes a great neighbor for the Convention Center next door.

Yet for the city, the Apple Carnegie Library represents a failure of imagination. By leasing the Carnegie Library building to Apple, the city has turned over a prominent cultural asset to an exclusive use: a tech enclave whose products are out of reach for many residents. And not just the 1903 marble building, but also several acres of urban park in the form of Mt. Vernon Square. The arguments in favor of the Apple Carnegie Library don’t justify what should always be an option of last resort—the privatization of public space.


About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.