Architect: Work AC
Client: NYC Department of Design and Construction, Queens Library
Location: 72-33 Vleigh Pl., Flushing
Originally constructed under Mayor John Lindsay in the 1960s, Kew Gardens Hills Library was a 7,000-square-foot utilitarian box that served the purpose of sheltering stacks of books. But, according to use patterns, the Queens Library wanted to expand the public aspects of the program. They hired Work AC to add 3,000 square feet for a roomier teen lounge, children’s area, and adult reading room. Growing vertically would have swelled the kernel-sized budget beyond feasibility, so the architects arranged the addition on a 15-foot-wide, L-shaped setback bordering Vleigh Place and 72nd Rd.
The new facade zigzags in elevation, angling up along 72nd to a peak at the corner, sloping down to the ground mid-site on Vleigh, and then lifting up again. While much of the exterior wall is glazed, allowing views through the library, the main portion is made up of textured glass fiber-reinforced concrete panels. The concrete element functions structurally, working along with the existing structure and two additional columns to hold up a green roof to be planted with native vegetation.