In a neighborhood of high-end retail and luxury residences, this new branch library will fulfill a much needed role as a public space and touchstone for the local community and visiting tourists across from the Museum of Modern Art. Despite the library’s site being predominantly below grade and set at the base of a new 40-story hotel, this design proposal transforms the dark, subterranean space into an inviting, open and light-filled civic landscape in the heart of Manhattan.
The branch library’s identity is not put forth by an iconic façade symbolizing the New York Public Library as an institution. Instead, the façade disappears completely to reveal a dynamic public space and internal streetscape utilizing modest materials in innovative ways to create a rich palette of texture and expression.
The topography connects the three floors in a way that not only brings light and views to the deepest corners of the plan, but provides endless opportunities for interaction and enlightenment. The adaptable open plan and integration of books, art and technology engage the occupant by providing an accessible, intuitive landscape offering a wide spectrum of public and private spaces, recognizing that the only way to build a community is by empowering the individual.