Architects: 1100 Architect Location: Jamaica, NY, USA Architect In Charge: Juergen Riehm Design Team: Jessica Spiegel, Texer Nam, Chen-Whei Su, Joanna Chen, Sebastian Kaempf, Peter Heller Principal: David Piscuskas, FAIA, LEED AP Project Architects: Heather Braun, RA; Christine Harper, RA Project Captain: Ersela Kripa, RA Project Year: 2011 Photographs: Michael Moran / ottoarchive
Managing Agency: NYC Department of Design and Construction Structural Engineer: Robert Silman Associates Mep Engineer: Buro Happold Consulting Engineers Environmental Consultant: Atelier Ten Client: Queens Library Thematic Sculptural Iconography, Environmental Graphics, and Way Finding Signage: Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership Structural Engineer: Robert Silman Associates MEP Engineer: Buro Happold Consulting Engineers Environmental Consultant: Atelier Ten Lighting Consultant: Atelier Ten Library Consultant: Lushington Associates Cost Estimator: Stuart-Lynn Company; Davis Langdon Company Expeditor: William Vitacco Associates Exhibit Designer: Exploratorium Vertical Transport Systems: DTM Geotechnical Engineer: Pillori Associates, P.A. Civil Engineer: Matrix New World Engineering, Inc. Commissioning Agent: Horizon Engineering Associates, LLP Construction Manager: Hill International
The design and construction of the Children’s Library Discovery Center (CLDC) is the implementation of one of the first phases of 1100 Architect’s master plan for the renovation and modernization of the 275,000-square-foot Queens Central Library. The master plan and CLDC are part of New York City’s Design and Construction Excellence program launched by Mayor Bloomberg in 2004. The CLDC is a two-story addition adjacent to the existing Central Library building. The ground floor houses part of the children’s book collection and a designated area for toddlers. The second floor contains the majority of the children’s collection, an open reading lounge, cyber center, and activity room.
The exterior façade of the building is composed of four different types of glass (transparent, translucent, opaque, and opaque with texture). The glowing glass façade is a beacon in the surrounding community and is elemental in increasing the library’s visibility and reintroducing it as a central cultural and social destination. Situated on a corner, the new addition takes advantage of its exposure to the street, creating a dialogue between the interior and exterior through the use of large transparent windows that also allow an abundance of natural light to enter. The perimeter wall has been thickened to incorporate quiet reading nooks and intimate social spaces.
The CLDC was designed to be a part of the Central Library and as such has no independent exterior entrance. The interior façade, located where the CLDC meets the existing library, is treated analogous to the exterior façade and contains inhabitable niches and windows that provide views in and out of the children’s library. Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership (LHSA+DP) designed the colorful graphics that help identify the CLDC as a special place within the larger library.
The folded planes of the acoustical plaster ceiling imbue the space with a regular rhythm and sense of scale. Openings for air distribution are incorporated into intentional gaps where the ceiling planes shift, merging a design concept with a functional requirement. The stair acts as a sculptural element in the space and is strategically placed opposite the entrance portal to make all visitors aware that the children’s library occupies two floors and to encourage the use of stairs rather than the elevators.
1100 Architect collaborated with LHSA+DP to create a hybrid science museum and children’s library. Phenomena based exhibits are on display in science-themed “plazas” dispersed throughout the library and integrated into the stacks. These displays provide children with a stimulating and experiential learning environment. The tabletop interactive exhibits, designed around children’s literacy, science, technology, and math, were inspired by input from experts in the field of interactive scientific children’s exhibits at the Exploratorium, the New York Hall of Science, and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. They were developed and built by the Exploratorium.
The CLDC is expected to achieve a minimum of LEED Silver certification. The sustainable design strategy consists of utilizing a high-performance façade, 100% fresh air, energy-efficient artificial lighting, radiant floor heating, recycled and low-emitting materials, and daylight. Green education graphics distributed throughout the library provide information on sustainable features such as the use of recycled materials and energy efficiency.