Architects: Rice+Lipka Architects
Location: New York, NY, USA
Project Team: Benjamin Cadena (Project Architect), Karl Larson (Project Manager), Andrew Dadds (Designer)
Area: 4400.0 ft2
Photographs: Michael Moran
From the architect. The Center is NYPL's first full floor dedicated to teens and occupies a previously gutted third floor space of Harlem's landmark branch. The space challenges library norms to provide a more open, socially-instigating, technology-rich environment that attracts and engages neighborhood youth.
Conceived as a single, light-filled space with multiple zones that foster small group socialization, the Center's spaces are shaped by two elements, a 20' diameter Media Vitrine and a bamboo bleacher. The Vitrine flips on its head the notion that multi-media spaces must be dark and hyper-isolated. Its open-top glass enclosure becomes the performative heart of the space where the physicality of gaming is exposed and sound is contained by using four Holosonic speakers that a produce a vertical column of short wavelength sound that does not propagate. The Guitar Hero, Wii, or film audio perceived as very loud inside are barely audible just outside the cylinder. The glazed enclosure allows for the teens within to be monitored easily and permits the extraordinary northern light to fill the space.
The bleacher provides access to street views out and a privileged overview of the Center. This sunny hang-out an entry focal point and sectional diversity on the otherwise flat floor plate.
Natural light, color, residual space and lighting patterns are used to define the X-Bar computer zone, a Snack+Chat Niche (an 1st time experimental break from the normal prohibitions), Exam Prep Zone, Highback Reading Lounge, and a central "L" lounge that rolls away for formal presentations.
The westside field of crosses maps the star constellation Leo - a subtle backdrop for the library's help counter and a coded reference to NYPL's ubiquitous lion mascot. The super-saturated eastside pattern unifies the space with a vibrant geometric field.