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Snøhetta to design a sunset-hued library in Far Rockaway, Queens

Architecture East News
Snøhetta is set to design the new Far Rockaway Library in Queens, a project started in 2012 after Hurricane Sandy. (Courtesy Snøhetta)
Snøhetta is set to design the new Far Rockaway Library in Queens, a project started in 2012 after Hurricane Sandy. (Courtesy Snøhetta)

Snøhetta’s dreamy vision for the new Far Rockaway public library in Queens, New York, is inching closer towards reality. Queens Public Library announced that the existing 50-year-old structure will officially close next week ahead of reconstruction.

The $33-million project, designed by the Brooklyn- and Oslo-based firm, will break ground over the footprint of the 9,000-square-foot building in the coming months. The library is located at 1637 Central Avenue and was the talk of the town after Hurricane Sandy nearly destroyed the surrounding Rockaway community in 2012. In the aftermath of the storm, the library helped provide disaster relief to local residents.

Interior rendering of Far Rockaway Library in Queens

Interior rendering of Far Rockaway Library in Queens (Courtesy Snøhetta)

Snøhetta’s design for the new library is slated to not only bring stellar architecture to an often-neglected area of New York, but also help spur revitalization in the neighborhood. The redesign will double the space inside the library by adding new children’s and teen rooms, an ADA-compliant entrance and restrooms, an elevator, a large meeting room, and more. With these enlarged spaces, the library hopes to expand its burgeoning community programming.

While significantly bigger than the original library, the two-story structure will feature an entirely green design to help it run efficiently. It will be LEED Gold certified, utilize daylight to control interior temperatures, and include a blue roof that captures stormwater. The site will also be elevated to exceed the new FEMA flood zone guidelines in case of future storms.

Rendering of Far Rockaway Library Queens

The library’s translucent exterior will be clad in colored, fritted glass. (Courtesy Snøhetta)

Snøhetta’s sunset-hued, boxy building is sure to stand out in downtown Far Rockaway not only because of its angular massing but also because of its distinctive cladding. According to the architects, “the simple form provides a calm contrast to the visual noise of surrounding retail outlets.”

At the corner of Mott and Central Avenues, the library’s main entrance will take the shape of a carved pyramid, outfitted with transparent glass so passersby can see what’s going on at night. Through a fritted glass curtain wall wrapping the structure, light will be diffused into the central atrium and gathering spaces below during the day.

The new Far Rockaway Library is expected to be complete in 2021. Starting October 30, the library will operate out of 1003 Beach 20th Street through the end of construction.

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