ClientNew York Public Library
Structural EngineerGilsanz Murray Steficek
MEP EngineersIP Group Engineers
Landscape ArchitectsWallace, Robert & Todd
Lighting DesignersCline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design
Text description provided by the architects. The New York Public Library commissioned this branch library of 12,000 square feet. We restored the existing 1907 Carrere and Hastings Carnegie Library and designed a new 7,000 square foot building to be located alongside. The library is conceived as a modern public institution that will contribute to the revitalization of the Stapleton neighborhood.
The facility is an assemblage of old and new. The existing Carnegie Library was converted into the Childrens’ Reading Room. The new building, constructed of glue laminated Douglas fir posts, beams, joists and roof decking, houses books and media. The structurally glazed facade invites the public and supplies natural light. The exposed wood structure provides a sense of rhythm, scale and material richness unexpected in contemporary public buildings. A radiant heating system efficiently warms the polished concrete floors.
The new library was intended above all to be an inviting, open, and accessible public space for the community. The new library had to be on a single level, stitch new building to old, and be handicapped accessible. An open plan, easily monitored by staff, that provided strategic spatial separations between children’s areas, teen area, and adult area was desired.
Working with the sloping grade of the land, we sited the new building such that a new street entrance could be accessed from grade, without steps. Teen and adult reading and research areas are located in the new building, separated by a transparent community room. The original Carnegie Library, which is immediately accessed off the new entry, was restored true to its original design, and is now the children’s reading room.
The library is the digital hub and resource for the neighborhood, providing Wi-Fi and computer terminals for students and residents. While information is increasingly available and distributed in a digital format, we sought in this building to assert the enduring relevance and primacy of the book. As such all walls are lined with bookshelves, putting the entire collection of the library within view, and within reach, of all its patrons.