Posts tagged with "Brooklyn Public Library":

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Here’s where art on the facade of the Brooklyn Heights library will go

Last week the Department of Buildings (DOB) approved demolition permits for the Brooklyn Heights branch library, clearing the way for a 36-story tower but raising questions about the ultimate fate of the art on the library's facade. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that exterior demolition at 280 Cadman Plaza West will begin in late March, and take about three months to complete. The new tower, designed by New York's Marvel Architects, will add 133 condos, retail space, and a STEM lab for young people in the neighborhood. An almost 27,000-square-foot library will occupy the development's mezzanine, part of the ground floor, and a below-grade level. Though it's smaller than the low-rise building it's replacing, the city maintains that the new branch will contain more usable space. Moreover, the sale of the city-owned property to developer Hudson Companies for $52 million is set to generate $40 million in capital repair funding for the BPL. Although site work has begun, the library sale and delayed transfer of ownership have remained a point of contention for activist groups like Citizens Defending Libraries, which maintains that no work should begin until the deal between the two parties is signed. So, with plans filed and permits in, there's just one more question—what's happening to the art on the library facade? The Architect's Newspaper previously reported that New York City's Public Design Commission (PDC) had to weigh in on the two bas–relifs by Clemente Spampinato before they could be removed. Keri Butler, deputy director of the PDC, shared the latest on the art's final home in an email:
The Public Design Commission has reviewed the methods and materials for removing the artworks from the facade of the library and temporarily storing them, and has found these methods to be appropriate with the understanding that a proposal for relocating the artworks within the new development at 280 Cadman Plaza West will be submitted by September 2017.
Displaying Spampinato's work in the new library underscores its civic function while preserving the art more-or-less in situ for public enjoyment. There's no word yet, though, on where in the new building the reliefs will be hung when it opens in spring of 2020.
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Tree removal at Brooklyn Heights library begins, paving way for 36-story tower

A controversial project in Brooklyn Heights sparked protest yesterday morning as developers cut down trees to make way for a condo tower on the site of a former public library. The project in question is the Brooklyn Public Library's (BPL) former Business and Career Library. Last year, developer Hudson Companies won a $52 million contract to replace the library's building at 280 Cadman Plaza. Hudson Companies' plans to redevelop the site includes a 36-story tower with 114 units of off-site affordable housing. As part of their deal with the city, the developer would build a new, 27,000-square-foot library located at the base of the new building. Fast forward to yesterday morning when contractors arrived to cut down several trees on the property in anticipation of demolition. Michael D. D. White of Citizens Defending Libraries was there, along with three fellow members, to protest the tree removal in the context of the library's sale and conversion to luxury condos. "First, [the city and the developers] take something valuable, then they trash it, then"—White gestured to the tree crews hacking away—"they drive away the constituency in all ways they can." As The Architect's Newspaper reported last November, Hudson Companies filed plans to demolish the library in early November, even before they closed the deal for the site. Department of Building (DOB) demolition permits have been filed, though their final approval is pending. A spokesperson for the developer confirmed that the tree removal was permitted and lawful. Hudson is removing five trees total: four within the perimeter of the property and one street tree on the Cadman Plaza West sidewalk for which it paid restitution to NYC Parks. "The construction team will be taking measures to prune and protect the remaining trees on the sidewalk during construction," the spokesperson said. "At the project’s completion, Hudson will plant new trees on the sidewalks per NYC requirements." As the building inches towards demolition, site conditions have deteriorated in some areas. A recent visit revealed a pile of leaves and trash that has accumulated around the library's former entrance, which is visible from the sidewalk but encircled by a metal security gate. Debris from the construction site has been the subject of ongoing community concern, especially since asbestos removal began in October of last year. When reached for comment on plans to clean up the mess, the Hudson spokesperson released the following statement: "Our crews make sure that all public areas around the site are cleared and free of debris at the end of each work day. We also expect them to keep the site itself as clean as possible, and will ensure that they adhere to that standard." The ongoing development begs a final question—what's happening to the art on the library facade? Working with an as-yet unnamed building conservation and repair company, Hudson has plans to remove and store the panels, while BPL is developing plans for the panels' eventual placement. Correction: This article initially stated that demolition permit approvals were pending the site's transfer of ownership from the city to Hudson. The permits' status is independent of the deal closing.
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When the Brooklyn Heights Library is demolished, what will happen to the art on its facade?

Community members and preservationists are worried that a local developer will pull a Trump on a Brooklyn library and send its art to the trash. In an unusual move, New York–based Hudson Companies this week filed plans to demolish the Brooklyn Heights Library at 280 Cadman Plaza West before they close on a deal for the site with its owner, the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL). Despite assurances that the art on the facade will be saved, city officials haven't issued a commitment in writing to preserve the work. If all permits are approved by the Department of Buildings (DOB), exterior demolition could begin in January to make way for a 36-story, mixed-use tower designed by Brooklyn-based Marvel Architects. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported this week that the branch, which closed in July and now operates out of temporary quarters, wants to get up and running inside the new building as soon as possible to minimize disruption to patrons. (Marvel Architects is also designing the new library.) As part of the BPL's $300 million capital repair campaign, the deal with Hudson and this new—smaller—library will generate a surplus $40 million in funds that will go towards renovations at other branches. The Business & Career Library, long headquartered at the Brooklyn Heights branch, moved to the main library this summer, though the neighborhood branch will retain specialized services for freelancers and entrepreneurs when it reopens. The reduced size of the new library caught the community's attention and the deal behind the site attracted the feds. In May, the New York Post reported that federal and city prosecutors are investigating whether the $52 million redevelopment deal was a quid pro quo for contributions to Mayor Bill de Blasio's nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York. Hudson's winning bid for the library site was a full $6 million less than another developer's. Although ongoing investigations will not affect the demolition timeline, the fate of the library's facade is still undecided. The six bas-reliefs by artist Clemente Spampinato surround the main entrance and depict industry and businesses; crafts; sciences; knowledge; literature; and arts. In New York, his architectural work graces the auditoria, gyms, and facades of public schools in the five boroughs. Back in 2011, Brownstoner contributor Suzanne Spellen (a.k.a. Montrose Morris) praised the library's art when she dismissed its "not great architecture." Designed by architect Francis Keally, one of the architects behind the main branch at Grand Army Plaza, the building opened in 1962 but looks like a throwback to the WPA era. Separated from the neoclassical post office and courthouses across the street by a grand allée on Cadman Plaza Park, it defines the character of the corridor despite its design shortcomings. Advocacy groups Citizens Defending Libraries (CDL) and Love Brooklyn Libraries, Inc. fought hard to keep the library open in its original building, but are now hoping that at least Spampinato's work will be preserved in some capacity. "There's a longstanding tradition of incorporating art into the grand civic architecture of public libraries. From the [NYPL's] Main Branch on 5th Avenue to the library on Grand Army Plaza, art is an integral part of the identity of New York library systems," said Michele Bogart, professor of art history at Stony Brook University and former vice president of the Art Commission (now the Public Design Commission). A Carroll Gardens resident, Bogart suggested the BPL should incorporate the reliefs, which are 20 feet tall and 11 feet wide, into the new tower's branch as an important continuation of tradition and a gesture to the neighborhood losing its public facility. In addition to architectural sculpture adorning libraries, there is a venerable history of spolia in New York's public works. Simeon Bankoff, the executive director of the Historic Districts Council, a preservation advocacy group, said the reliefs could be repurposed in another municipal capacity, like the Marine Grill's opulent mosaic murals greet straphangers at Fulton Street. Alternatively, preservation activist Theodore Grunewald said the library reliefs could go to a museum, citing the Pegasus sculptures from the Coney Island High Pressure Pumping Station that now live in the Brooklyn Museum's extensive collection of architectural objects. The Public Design Commission (PDC) reviewed Spampinato's pieces when they were installed in 1963, Bogart said, and the PDC still has a chance to weigh in on the significance of the library sculpture. A spokesperson for the developer confirmed in an email that the reliefs will be saved in some capacity: “Hudson Companies will carefully remove the reliefs and store them for the duration of the construction period. The ultimate decision for the reuse will be made by the Brooklyn Public Library, which is committed to making sure they are preserved either at the new branch or another location." Echoing Hudson, a spokesperson for the BPL confirmed that the library will make the final decision about the reliefs, although there is no confirmation yet about whether "another location" means a different branch or another entity like a museum or private collection. At press time, Marvel Architects could not be reached to discuss plans for incorporating the reliefs into the new library, and PDC executive director Justin Garrett-Moore could not be reached for comment on the commission's plans, if any.
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Official images released of the Brooklyn Public Library’s Interim Brooklyn Heights Branch

Opened last July, official images of the Interim Brooklyn Heights Library have been released. Designed by New York studio Leven Betts, the space will be a three-year temporary home for the branch until construction of the new library—part of a high-rise development at 280 Cadman Plaza West—is complete. The interim facility is located in the parish hall at Our Lady of Lebanon Church, 109 Remsen Street. Development firm, The Hudson Companies is behind the project.

Speaking to The Architect's Newspaper through email, Leven Betts said how they "designed the Interim space to be a light-filled pleasant space of reading, learning, and community gathering that would function seamlessly for the branch and community while the new building was constructed." The firm also described their design strategy as "simple," aiming to "maximize the openness of the existing parish hall space while still providing for private spaces at the librarian staff area and the Multi-Purpose Room." The solution they said, "is a single translucent wall that bellies out at the ends to create the private spaces with access to light and fresh air and curves in at the middle to create a large shared open space for reading, studying and browsing books."

Using Panelit—a translucent honeycomb-like material—the wall has Walt Whitman’s poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry printed onto it. Whitman's work can be read in full as it spans the wall's 100-foot length. "The response to the design has been very positive," said Leven Betts. In fact, Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) President and CEO Linda E. Johnson said: “With its bright interior and comfortable environment for attending a program, learning a new skill or simply browsing the shelves, the interim Brooklyn Heights Library is as welcoming and inspiring as the neighborhood it serves." According to Leven Betts, BPL administrators praised the quality and speed of the project (which took one year from commencement of design to completion of construction).

Leven Betts are currently working on the total renovation of two other BPL projects, one in East Flatbush Brooklyn and one in Borough Park.

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Federal investigation will look into Brooklyn Heights Library development plan

Subpoenas have been sent to multiple developers that bid on a project to redevelop the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL)'s Brooklyn Heights branch after real estate developer Hudson Companies Inc. won the project with a $52 million offer. Their bid, selected by the library with the help of the city's Economic Development Corporation, was not the highest nor did it offer to build the largest amount of affordable housing. Hudson Companies' plans to redevelop the BPL's Brooklyn Heights branch on Clinton Street would include a 30-story skyscraper with 114 units of off-site affordable housing, according to an online article by the New York Post. A new, 21,500-square-foot library would be located at the base of the triangular-shaped building. The Hudson Companies’ bid, in addition to not being the highest, also did not offer the largest amount of affordable housing. For example, one bid from Second Development Services offered $6 million more than Hudson and also included three more affordable housing (117 to Hudson Companies' 114).  Allegations have been made that the bidding process was rigged to benefit the winners: both Hudson and Marvel Architects, the design firm for the project, contributed money to the Campaign for One New York shortly after de Blasio was sworn in as mayor. The charity, which promoted the mayor's agenda, also received two $25,000 donations from Toll Brothers. The Post also reports that Hudson Companies President David Kramer was also known to say that Hudson was going to win the Brooklyn Heights project, no matter what. A spokesman for de Blasio has denied that the bidding process was unfair. US Attorney Preet Bharara and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance are conducting the investigation. The Post article states that Kramer has not yet received a subpoena.
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Marvel Architects’ Brooklyn Heights Library tower gets green light from New York City Planning Commission

Development at 280 Cadman Plaza West was given the go-ahead at today's New York City Planning Commission meeting. Excluding two commissioners who recused themselves, the commission voted unanimously to approve plans for a 36-story tower designed by Marvel Architects. The mixed-use development will replace the Brooklyn Public Library's Business and Career Library, which opened in 1962. The development will house 136 luxury rental units, ground floor retail, and a new, 21,500-square-foot library. Commissioner Carl Weisbrod noted that the developers, Hudson Companies, would build additional retail on nearby Fulton Street, as well as develop 114 units of affordable housing off-site, along Fulton Street and Atlantic Avenue. The hearing was packed to capacity with members of Citizens Defending Libraries (CDL), a grassroots organization devoted to protecting the city's libraries from being sold to private developers. After the commission's vote, the group reacted in anger and dismay, calling members of the commission "sell outs" and noting that the commission "disregarded all that [we] said" about selling off city property. In a statement, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn Public Library said: "We applaud the City Planning Commission for joining Community Board 2, Brooklyn Heights community organizations, and Brooklynites who care about the future of their libraries in supporting BPL’s plan for a new Brooklyn Heights branch. As the Commission recognized, this project is a win-win for Brooklyn. In addition to bringing a new state-of-the art library to Brooklyn Heights at no cost to BPL, it will also help to alleviate the system's capital crisis by generating more than $40 million that will be invested in libraries throughout the borough. We look forward to continuing this dialogue throughout the public review process." The library is in the midst of a budget shortfall, and the proceeds from the sale will go towards approximately $300 million in deferred maintenance across all BPL branches. CDL claims that the city bestowed a below-market deal on the developers. Michael D.D. White, cofounder of CDL, notes that the property is valued at $120 million. The commission's approval may be the final green light for the development, but judging by the intensity of the activists' disapproval, developers may encounter fierce opposition from CDL in the near future.
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Marvel Architects’ controversial library and condo development moves forward in Brooklyn

A controversial plan to boost the coffers of the financially-strapped Brooklyn Public Library system with the revenue from a new condo tower is moving forward. Last fall, library trustees approved the $52 million sale of the system's Brooklyn Heights branch to the Hudson Companies which planned to build a new market-rate condo tower on the coveted site. As part of the deal, the developer would also include a new library within the tower and commit to building 114 units of affordable housing off-site. The local community board has now signed-off on the plan, which sends it to the Brooklyn Borough President's office and then onto the City Planning Commission, reported the New York Times. The Hudson Companies has tapped Marvel Architects to design all aspects of the project including the condo tower, new library branch, and the two affordable housing buildings that will rise in Clinton Hill a couple of miles away. (During construction, the developer will also set up an interim library near the existing branch.) The triangular-shaped, 36-story condo tower is clad in limestone and has dark spandrels bands that cut across its skin. The new public library is housed in the building's base, facing Borough Hall and the stately court buildings across the street. On the structure's Clinton Street–facing side, there is space for a lobby, two retail outlets, and a connection to the below-grade community space. The two affordable buildings included in this project have a notably more austere presence, both with boxy brick facades and significant setbacks. The units in these buildings will be available to those making between 60 and 165 percent of the Area Median Income. Brooklyn Public Library president and CEO Linda E. Johnson told the New York Times that $40 million from the sale will go toward four other struggling branches in the borough. It's a significant figure, especially for the system which has $300 million in unmet capital needs. The project could break ground in 2016.
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Winning Designs for World’s First Sci-Fi Museum on View at Brooklyn Public Library

  Science fiction’s outlandish imaginings are set to become reality, with  the top 10 designs for the world’s first sci-fi museum on display at the Brooklyn Public Library through May 31. Naturally, the first-of-its-kind project warrants no less than a high-tech, out-of-this-world edifice worthy of Star Trek. The winning design by graduate student Emily Yen, titled Schrödinger’s Box, proposes a 3,990 square foot modular museum comprised of a trapezoid frame with infilled planes at various heights (think staggered wall shelving). An exterior insulated plastic cube is then hung from the frame, while a flexible fabric roof pivots around the opaque projection wall “facilitating connections to the universe and beyond,” according to Yen’s proposal. “It explores the imagination that anything is possible—it’s infinite. I think [Yen’s] design really teaches you to dream big,” said Barbara Wing, Manager of Exhibitions at BPL. A runner-up design by Indonesian architect Ko Wibowo perpetuates the concept of a roving museum with a building designed entirely from boxes affixed to trailers, with each one connected to the other by electrically charged magnetic edges. The boxes will be prefabricated off-site and designed to easily detach—facilitating relocation of the museum via truck or train. Sliding steel doors protect the glass-facing sides during transportation and control interior sun exposure for when the museum is reconfigured in different locales. Aspiring simultaneously towards a galactic dreamscape and the futuristic technologies of the sci-fi genre, the museum’s interior and exterior will be informed by a “utopia” (organic) and “dystopia” (industrial) concept respectively. The building will sport an industrial-looking front made from clear-coated raw steel and silicone-insulated glass. The indoors, meanwhile, will be awash in constellation-like lighting reflected off movable stainless steel walls with a mirror-like finish. Overhead, the brushed aluminium ceiling is embedded with self-illuminating signage. Knocking the ball out of the technological park is the creator of virtual reality experience “Project Anywhere,” Constantinos Miltiadis, who proposes a completely empty, non-descript building where museumgoers’ experience is mediated entirely through a wireless head-mounted display. Users dock their smartphones on the virtual reality headset for a customized experience of navigating a traditional museum—only virtually. While the concept of windowless-basement-as-museum may seem somewhat unsettling, Miltiadis’ point about eliminating physical constraints has merit. “The USS Enterprise, therefore, could be exhibited in its real scale: it can fly above you, take off and land,” he wrote in his proposal. Jonathan Spencer, Corporate Counsel at the Museum of Science Fiction, would like to see this technology come to fruition in the near future. "Some of the concepts which we hope to be able to incorporate are to allow visitors to have an augmented reality. Of course we would still have physical exhibits but augmented reality would allow us to bring educational programs to schools," he said. The Science Fiction Museum's primary goal is to inspire interest in STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) by exploring the genre through film, literature, art, graphic novels and music. Following its appearance at the Brooklyn Public Library, previews of the Museum of Science Fiction will be exhibited in Los Angeles, Milan, Mexico City, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, Mumbai, Berlin, Moscow and London.
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If these five architecture teams get their way, the library of the future will look a lot different than today

New York City’s public libraries need cash—and they need it fast. Over the years, the city's three library systems—the New York Public Library (serving Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island), the Brooklyn Public Library, and the Queens Public Library—have racked up over one billion dollars in capital needs. And that's not money needed for new educational tech tools, like iPads and laptops, but for renovations just to keep the old buildings in a state of good repair. Making things more challenging is that over the last decade, as the city's libraries continued to fall into disrepair, circulation through the city's three systems increased by 46 percent and program attendance shot up 62 percent. That's all according to the Center for an Urban Future, which published a report on the dire state of New York City’s public libraries back in September. But the Center didn’t just drop the bad news and see itself out the back door. It partnered with the Architectural League and launched a design study to find architectural, financial, and programmatic tools to get the libraries out of the red. Now, five interdisciplinary teams have proposed a wide range of ideas that would supposedly do just that. To the team led by Andrew Berman Architect, the city's libraries must become more useful and accessible tools for the people they serve. So, for example, just keeping community rooms open later in the day could go a long way. The team also proposes creating 24-hour vestibules at libraries that function like the ATM room at your bank. The keycard-accessible space would have plugs for laptops, book drop-off, and information kiosks. Essentially, just a place to hang out and work. A proposal called L+ from the team led by SITU Studio has two main goals: to make library community rooms "register as an accessible and useful neighborhood asset" and to create an entirely new service model for the 21st century library. To Team Situ, this means creating library "retail" outposts that become an extension of the existing library system. These flexible and architecturally distinct structures would have strong graphic identities, and be built within existing library buildings, storefronts, and transit hubs. The proposal from Marble Fairbanks with James Lima Planning + Development, Leah Meisterlin, and Special Project Office is rooted in the weeds of city data. After overlaying existing branch locations with flood zones, development potential, and information about communities (population growth, diversity, age range, etc), the team proposed a mixed-use tower for Brighton Beach that has stacks, ground-floor retail, and a mix of affordable and market-rate apartments. To understand the pitfalls and potential of the city's library system, the MASS Design Group investigated all aspects of a few specific branches in south Brooklyn. The team concluded that the libraries' programmatic possibilities were limited by the physical form of the buildings—so what did they do? They changed the buildings. In Sheepshead Bay, for example, MASS creates a branch with flexible space for cultural events. And in Coney Island, they turn the second floor of a library into a food, health, and educational center. Team UNION takes a less architectural approach, focusing instead on how to make public library more recognizable as civic institutions. To boost the the systems' profile, UNION proposes a new identity system that has a more recognizable library icon and clearer signage. This strategy also includes a marketing campaign and a new library card that could “unlock services far beyond libraries.” The team would also use "architectural strategies that leverage needed investments in roof and facade repairs to create more distinctive, open and flexible facilities."
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Cash-Strapped Brooklyn Public Library to Sell Two Branches to Private Developers

Right as the New York City Housing Authority goes public with its controversial plan to allow developers to build high rises in the middle of public housing developments, the Brooklyn Public Library is taking a similar approach with the hope of mitigating its ongoing financial struggles. The New York Times reports that the library plans on selling off the land beneath two of its branches—The Brooklyn Heights Library at Cadman Plaza and the Pacific Library on Fourth Avenue—to developers who will then tear down the buildings and carve out space for them on the ground floor of their new residential towers. But a number of local residents aren’t pleased with the Library's plans and are concerned that these modern, high-rise iterations will lack that unique community feel and cultural character found in the existing libraries. Once the Pacific Branch, built in 1904 as the first Carnegie library in Brooklyn and designed by architect Raymond Almirall, is torn down, the closest library for patrons in the Boerum Hill and Park Slope neighborhoods will be located in Two Trees' 32-story apartment tower designed by Enrique Norten of Ten Arquitectos, which will also house arts space for BAM and 651 ARTS.
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Another Brooklyn Service Bites the Dust: Long Island College Hospital to Close

It looks like South Brooklyn will have plenty of new condos, but perhaps a dearth of services. This morning, the board of trustees of the State University of New York (SUNY) voted unanimously to close Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Cobble Hill. According to DNAinfo, Downstate Medical Center president Dr. John Williams told the board that the hospital “was losing money and draining the entire Downstate system.” Protests ensued at the public hearing from doctors, nurses, and hospital staff. The 200,000-square-foot campus could have a price tag of up to $500 million. This news comes on the heels of an announcement from Brooklyn Public Library officials that they plan to sell the Brooklyn Heights branch to a developer. The over-extended library is in need of $9 million to renovate the building. According to the Brooklyn Paper, the BPL is hoping a private developer will purchase the 25,000-square-foot property and build a residential building that also houses the library on the ground floor. A number of community members expressed their disapproval at the meeting. Luckily for interested developers, both LICH and the Brooklyn Heights branch are already zoned for residential. These pending sales, however, are part of a larger trend that is sweeping the city, and making headlines this week—cash-strapped city agencies and institutions are increasingly stressed and looking to relieve their financial woes by selling off properties to private developers.