VMDO Architects win third award for Sweet Briar library renovation

October 21, 2016 | Staff Writer
Old and new blend seamlessly in Mary Helen Cochran Library.

Old and new blend seamlessly in Mary Helen Cochran Library.

Preservation Virginia recently recognized VMDO Architects with its 2016 Gabriella Page Preservation Award for the “outstanding rehabilitation” of Sweet Briar College’s Mary Helen Cochran Library.

Sweet Briar College librarian Joe Malloy accepted the award at the 31st Annual Virginia Preservation Conference Monday in Charlottesville, along with VMDO’s Lorenzo Battistelli.

“So many people came up to me and said how glad they were that Sweet Briar is open,” Malloy said. “Otherwise the College would have been on Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic Places list.”

Lorenzo Battistelli (left) and Joe Malloy accept the 2016 Gabriella Page Preservation Award from Preservation Virginia’s Anne Geddy Cross. Photo by Lauranett Lee

Lorenzo Battistelli (from left),  Preservation Virginia’s Anne Geddy Cross and Joe Malloy at the awards ceremony on Oct. 17. Photo by Lauranett Lee

The award “recognizes an owner, architect, design firm, contractor or developer for a domestic, commercial or public sector project that best exemplifies the use of preservation standards and brings an outstanding building into appropriate contemporary use,” according to Preservation Virginia’s website.

VMDO’s two-year renovation of the library was completed in fall 2014. The project restored and emphasized the original Ralph Adams Cram architecture while adding light-filled, technology-friendly spaces to work, as well as stunning sightlines to the outdoors.

This is the third award won by the Charlottesville firm for its renovation of the 1929 structure. One previous award came last year when American Libraries, the magazine of the American Library Association, listed Cochran Library in its 2015 Library Design Showcase. In September, the library renovation received one of three New Landmark Library Honorable Mentions by the Library Journal.

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