Situated on a prominent waterfront site just across the East River from the United Nations and Roosevelt Island, the Queens Library at Hunters Point is scheduled to begin construction early next year. The design, which was approved this month is a collaboration between Steven Holl and partner Chris McVoy.
When we visited Steven Holl Architects we had a chance to see the design of Queens Library at Hunters Point on the boards. Check out our recent features of works by Steven Holl Architects, including the master plans and buildings for Hangzhou Normal University in China, the Glasgow School of Art, and our previous coverage of Queens Library at Hunters Point.
Further project description of the new Queens Library at Hunters Point and images following the break.
From Steven Holl Architects:
The new Queens Library is sited with spectacular views over the East River and major landmarks, such as the UN Building and the Roosevelt Memorial by Louis I. Kahn under construction on Roosevelt Island. It will function as a connector between waterfront activities and the city beyond. With residential buildings, three acres of new park land and public schools as neighbors, the library will serve as a new “urban forum” and an invaluable resource for the community. The new Library will shape public space and create new connections across the Queens West Development, Hunter Points South, and the existing neighborhood of Hunters Point.
Tom Galante, Chief Executive Officer for the Queens Library, said, “Queens Library at Hunters Point will be a great resource for the whole community. We are looking forward to working with Steven Holl Architects to see a truly special library built on this site.”
In addition to the stacks, the new library will house reading areas, a gallery, public assembly multi-purpose meeting room for community programming including after-school study, readings, and various locally based events, and associated library staff and support areas.
“This library will be a beacon for the Queens Library system and a cultural center for this growing and dynamic neighborhood” said David J. Burney, Commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction, which is managing the project. “Steven Holl Architects deliver dramatic architecture and innovative responses to complex client programs, and has proven to be adept at creating iconic buildings that respond to their site, culture, and history. This will be Steven Holl Architects’ first public New York City commission, and we are looking forward to working with him on this exciting project.”
Steven Holl states, “We are very pleased with this great commission for an addition to the growing community. We envision a building hovering and porous, open to the public park. A luminous form of opportunity for knowledge, standing on its own reflection in the east river.”
The prominent site on the East River inspired the design, which cuts the lines of the main interior circulation route into the west façade, opening up views to the river and Manhattan skyline.
A “Manhattan view” stair rises up from the open arrival space, allowing the users a great view toward the city, flanked perpendicularly by reading tables in ascending sections backed with bookcases. While users may be on computers, the view from the entry is of books, and the view on the way up is of the East River and Manhattan.
The program’s separation into children’s area, teen area and adult area, can be read in the carved cuts of the east face of the building, one façade opening for each area. Yet the programmatic divisions are fluid. The building section of the new library is open and flowing, while the plan is compact, allowing for the most energy-efficient design and the greatest amount of public space on the site.
The fabric-formed concrete structure is exposed and painted white inside, while exterior insulation and a foamed aluminum rainskin give the exterior a subtle sparkle and glow, without being overly shiny. As the material is 100 percent recycled aluminum, this outer layer relates to all the green aspects in the new facility.
The building is sited true north-south, forming a triangular public garden space on the east. The park office pavilion defines the northern edge of this garden, with a bosque of gingko trees, benches and tables.
Along the west is an elongated reflecting pond of recycled water, which is edged in the natural grasses that once grew at the bank of the East River. Frogs, turtles, and fish inhabit this year-round natural riparian water strip. Along the face of the building at the east entrance side is a covered porch, which leads to the park office pavilion. Ascending the stair inside one can reach the rooftop reading garden with amazing panoramic views.
At night the glowing presence of the new library along the waterfront joins the Pepsi sign and the “Long Island” sign at the old Gantry to become a beacon and inviting icon for this new community place.