Posts tagged with "Libraries":

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Hunters Point Library called out over accessibility issues

Three sections of Steven Holl’s recently opened Hunters Point Library in Long Island City, Queens, have raised concerns due to only being accessible by stairs and are now being reorganized. While the library was previously applauded for the staircase’s design, and there's an elevator, it doesn't provide access to the three, tiered levels of stacks above the lobby. The Queens Public Library has announced that it is taking steps to fix the issue, but given the project's lengthy development timeline, how could such an obvious flaw make it past the design phase?  “With all the money they spent and all the years of delay, it struck me as strange," library patron Joe Bachner, told Gothamist. With the building costing upwards of $41 million, it does seem to be a big mistake that such popular sections of a library (fiction and periodicals) would exclude individuals with wheelchairs or other mobility challenges, as well as parents with strollers, and the elderly.  The library does technically meet the American Disabilities Act's (ADA) requirements due to a promise that librarians would retrieve books for patrons unable to make it up the stairs—but patrons don’t always know what they are looking for when they enter a library. The search and the discovery are a part of a library’s experience—a crucial part of obtaining knowledge. This statement was met with backlash by community members on Twitter (and in the comments on our previous article about the building's opening): “A 41 million budget and accessibility wasn’t considered in a beautiful inclusive way...” posted Sinéad Burke As Justin Davidson wrote in New York Magazine, "Staircases can be wonderful, providing drama, seating, exercise, and hangout spaces all at once—but they must never be the only option. Holl’s design, as sensitive as it is in many ways, fails to take that mandate seriously." In a statement to Gothamist, Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott said, “Our goal is to be inclusive and provide access and opportunity to all.” The library plans to move the fiction stacks to another location in the library and provide the community with updates as they come.
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Steven Holl’s amble-worthy Hunters Point Library is finally open

Steven Holl has faced some real challenges with the Hunters Point Library in Long Island City, Queens—both artistic and pragmatic. Its completion after nine years can now be celebrated (construction began in 2015), but it’s a long time to wait for the $40 million, 22,000-square-foot-project, built by the city’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC). For the last year, precautions were made to adjust balconies off the central atrium space to prevent any suicide attempts. Nevertheless, it has been well put together by Steven Holl Architects, with Olaf Schmidt in charge, and opens today, September 24. Holl points out that what makes the library tick is its connection between what it looks like and how it’s experienced. He sums it up as a “browsing circuit,” comparable to his plan for an earlier unbuilt American Memorial Library in Berlin. For both there was the open stack, finding your own books, and seeing what others of interest were there at their side. In Queens, this is accomplished by suggesting readers movement along a multitude of stairways that are punctuated by levels with select bookcases off the sides, designed with shelves which accommodate readers’ books and/or their computers. Holl favors both artifacts, but he insists on the continuing presence of books. Holl also sees this space as a community center for presenting lectures, reciting poetry, or offering philosophical views. The latter can take place below, in the meeting room, or on the roof level at an outdoor setup with its dark wood seats. Literature for the earlier Berlin library tells of its fulfilling an aim of John Cotton Dana (1856-1929), the American librarian’s officiation of the open stack. Dana wasn’t alone, but the Americans open stacks library was actuated by him. Coming upon more than the original call number gives the reader a wider choice, a chance to browse. Inside—the exterior views have already been discussed—the good number of stairways suggest the presence of a Gianbattista Piranesi’s Carceri second state etching, Pier with a Lamp (1761). In 2007 Holl had rendered a watercolor painting based precisely on this print, transforming it over from a typical dark, mysterious, and haunting Piranesi to a brightly lit, upbeat image. This changeover in mood to a cheerful interior is the kind of atmosphere which John Cotton Dana prescribed for his ideal public library. He said,
Let the shelves be open, and the public admitted to them, and let the open shelve strike the keynote of the whole administration. The whole library should be permeated with a cheerful and accommodating atmosphere.
I would say that Holl has unknowingly fulfilled Dana’ s goal and maybe consciously paid homage to Piranesi. The cheerfulness of Holl’s library is—in spite of his knowledge of the persistence of doubt and uncertainty in our world–due to strong light coming in from the huge windows (modulated by metallic curtains) and enhanced by artificial lighting; LED and canisters lights provided by Dove and other companies. Answering Piranesi and some Cubists intents, there are theatrical views in addition to Holl’s fully tectonic field: A bold, slanting north/south white form resembling a beam (but is in actuality the underside of the egress stair clad with sheetrock) moving through a portion of the building is perpendicularly met by a curved mass and sheaved with bamboo, allowing for flickering light and shadow earth color effects, like early Cubist still lifes and landscapes. The photos above by Paul Warchol show how the library presents an ambiguous spatial field; the fragmented mass is a typical Cubist formal language. One other especially noteworthy interior view is the vaulting of the children’s area into an atrium space. The children’s area is across to the south, shielded by a curved vault of rounded steel tubes bent with metal decking spanning between, as observed by Justin den Herder of Silman, the engineering firm who helped realize the job. This structural element is also clad with bamboo panels allowing for a billowing curvature. The teen section is tucked away on the 5th level, off the atrium, and, above, on the roof deck, is the small outdoor theatre for lectures and cafe treats. Other contributors to Holl’s design were Michael Van Valkenburgh’s landscaping and Julianne Swartz’s optical devices. Van Valkenburg was hired to design a much more complicated scheme but the budget was sharply reduced, allowing only for several Honey Locust trees. Swartz’s four sculptural lenses were placed strategically along, and inside, the library to control views, echoing the playfulness of the sixties-era lens boxes designed by Mary Bauermeister. According to Swartz, “I make sculpture because it relates to the body.” This, in extension, is incredibly fitting for a design by Holl, since his work is ultimately tied to phenomenology. Alongside Holl’s sublime measures of the atrium, is his human scale and measurement throughout. Libraries around the globe have proliferated recently; they’re increasingly offering more than borrowed books. Is it too much to say, that our new community library in Queens, complete with its 50,000 books, now provides usefulness and beauty, equal to any of these others or even greater than some?
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Snøhetta's swooping Charles Library opens at Temple University

Snøhetta’s eleventh library has opened its doors for the fall semester at Temple University in Philadelphia. The new Charles Library is just one of many construction projects initiated by a $300 million dollar investment in the 2014 Visualize Temple campus master plan. The 220,000-square-foot, 4-story library boasts more than double the amount of space of its brutalist predecessor, Samuel Paley Library, which was designed in the 1960s by Nolen & Swinburne and will soon be renovated for the School of Public Health. Sited at the intersection of the campus’s major pedestrian pathways (Polett and Liacouras Walk) and one block over from the city’s major thoroughfare (Broad Street), the building acts as a new social and academic hub to not only the school but for the North Philly community at large.  Designed and developed in collaboration with Stantec, the building’s base is vertically clad in split-faced granite, a choice that references the campus’s surrounding context. A cedar-clad arched entrance is cut into the stone volume and welcomes visitors to the south side of the building. The swooping wooden arches continue past the glass facade and into the interior where they form a three-story domed atrium, which serves as a zone that's open 24/7 and offers workstations that are available to all Philadelphia residents. An oculus allows light to pour in from the top floor. To accommodate the growing student body of 39,000, the design needed to utilize the latest technologies while reinterpreting the traditional typology of a university research library. In the atrium, at the base of the steel-clad main staircase, is what students and staff lovingly call the “BookBot”—a fifty-seven-foot tall automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) for the library’s collection of over 1.5 million volumes. The BookBot drastically reduced the space needed for book storage (the system takes up just five percent of the total square footage) and thus enabled more areas to be developed for individual study, collaboration, and other academic resources such as digital fabrication, and writing and tutoring labs.  While the BookBot frees up shelf space throughout the library's four floors, the book itself hasn’t completely disappeared from sight. Roughly 200,000 volumes can still be accessed in the library’s browsable collection on the fourth floor. On this level, floor-to-ceiling glazing lets in ample sunlight for studying and offers a moment of respite and connection to nature as students can look out onto views of the building’s lushly planted green roof.  The 47,300 square-foot roof garden is one of the largest in Pennsylvania and covers over 70 percent of the building’s roof surface with over 15 different species of native flowers and grasses. Designed to meet Philadelphia Water Department guidelines, the roof is a key part of the site’s stormwater management system, which also includes two underground catchment basins that store and process nearly half a million gallons of water.  The library is already being filled with students socializing in the ground floor cafe, soaking up some sun in the stacks, and diligently working on their laptops anywhere there is an open seat. Given the notoriety of the firm, it is sure to draw attention from more than those cramming for tomorrow’s exam—the university is expecting over five million visitors to stop by the building annually.
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Historic Hollywood library converted into emergency homeless shelter

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has treated the city’s homeless crisis as a high priority since he first took office in 2013. A Bridge Home, one of Garcetti projects developed in collaboration with City Councilmember David Ryu, was launched in April of last year in response to a new state law that enables cities to construct a relatively expedient building type known as “bridge housing” to provide shelters for the region’s homeless female population. For its planners, this has meant applying a $20 million budget to the construction of an additional 222 units of bridge housing across the city’s 15 City Council districts within the first two years of the program. After 10 months of construction, the Gardner Street Women’s Bridge Housing Center, the seventh bridge housing project to date, opened in Hollywood inside a former library on September 16. Originally built in 1958, the Honnold & Rex-designed Will & Ariel Durant Branch Library required very little transformation to become the permanent home of a housing center. The main space was divided to provide the majority of the building’s services, including beds for 30 women, bathrooms, a communal kitchen, and support services, while the original front desk and central clock were left in place. “The fact we were able to salvage this building, keep its historic integrity and help meet the crisis of our time is beautiful,” commented Ryu. To ensure that its occupants feel safe, the original outdoor spaces are now gated, the entire facility is staffed by licensed clinical social workers, all of whom are women, and many of its public spaces will soon host various skill training services. While some of the other shelters completed through the program have more beds and amenities—The Bread Yard St. Andrew’s offers 100 beds in the nearby Chesterfield Square of South Los Angeles—the Gardner Street Center demonstrates the benefits of repurposing a building as opposed to constructing anew. Eighteen additional shelters are in the works throughout the city, and statistics suggest they can’t come soon enough; an estimated 18,000 women are currently experiencing homelessness citywide, with 2,500 in Hollywood alone. Critics of A Bridge Home have drawn a connection between the program and the restrictions the city council is currently reviewing that would limit where the city’s homeless population can live and sleep. One proposal being considered at the moment would disallow the homeless from sleeping with 500 feet of most public spaces.
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Libros Schmibros receives colorful makeover for Los Angeles's Boyle Heights space

Across the street from the beloved Mariachi Plaza Station, set in a storefront of the iconic Boyle Hotel built in 1889, is a lending library that has been cheerfully serving the Boyle Heights community of Los Angeles since 2010. Founded by bibliophiles David Kipen and Colleen Jaurretche, Libros Schmibros was founded in response to the unfortunate closure of a local library, with a desire to offer “low or no-cost books into all hands, native and immigrant, Eastside and West.” When moving to their new location last year, Kipen and Jaurretche hired local firm RADAR (Rachel Allen Development Architecture Research) to design their interior as economically as possible. With the limited funds, RADAR focused its design budget on a wall-sized bookshelf visible from the street, complete with a playful “skyline” silhouette distinguished by sunset colors and a contrasting library ladder, as well as an equally colorful set of papel picado banners strewn overhead. The subtraction in the middle of the bookshelf makes room for a preexisting window and a projector, which has already been used for presentations and roundtable events. The design for the 800-square-foot space, according to the firm, reflects a “bold presence, openness to the community, and optimism about the future of the city.”
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The internet is up in arms over tank-like Edmonton Public Library

As the redesigned Stanley A. Milner Library in downtown Edmonton, Canada creeps closer to its 2020 completion date, residents of the city have begun to express concerns that the project won't end up as advertised. The building, which sits downtown and serves as the central branch of the Edmonton Public Library system, has prompted an online backlash after photos of the construction site began circulating in the last few days, with many on Twitter comparing the library to a tank or cruise ship.

The complaints have focused primarily on the structure's external appearance, which currently resembles something less graceful than a flagship library branch. It has been compared to everything from a naval destroyer to a fall-out shelter, with some simply calling the building “ugly,” and have laid the blame at the recladding led by Toronto's Teeple Architects. Others have been quick to contrast the Edmonton design to its neighbor to the north, Calgary’s brand new public library, which opened to great fanfare late last year. Executed by Snøhetta and DIALOG, the Calgary project was popular with the general public and remained consistent from renderings through realization, leaving some Edmontonians to wonder what went wrong in their own city.

The design for the new Stanley Milner Library calls for a complete remodeling of the original building. An Asgard zinc cladding is being used on the exterior, much of which is still covered in protective plastic wrapping. Strips of new windows will perforate the outer walls to allow significantly more natural light into the building’s interior spaces. The refreshed facility, which has been closed since December 2016 and is set to open next February, will boast considerably more space for the children’s library, a new venue for Indigenous ceremonies, and improved amenities for audio recording and play. As of right now, though, the sparkly new object promised to Edmontonians in the project’s initial renderings seems duller than expected, and the design has changed considerably over time. Twitter users are correct to notice that certain changes have been made. Structural issues and budget constraints early on prompted Teeple to remove or shrink some of the windows and focus their efforts on interior spaces and services—arguably the most important part of the project. But Pilar Martinez, CEO of the Edmonton Public Library, has joined city architect Carol Belanger and Mayor Don Iveson in urging patience for the public. The building’s appearance, they insist, will improve as it comes closer to completion. Protective materials will be removed, lights will be switched on, people will fill the space, and the full effect of the original design as represented in the drawings will be realized.

“It’s going to be amazing,” Martinez told Global News Canada. She may very well be right, and the controversy at hand may be little more than a distant memory by February, but at this stage in construction, residents can do little more than trust the process.

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SOM designs first public library for Chicago's West Loop

In an old Harpo Productions building in Chicago's West Loop, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) has designed a new branch for the Chicago Public Library, the first outpost of the system in the neighborhood. The two-story, 16,500-square-foot building unites two older structures into a single cultural center for the area. The interior design takes its cues from the neighborhood's historic warehouses and stripped back existing partitions and finishes to reveal the brick and timber structure. Shelves were kept low so that spaces could feel and sight lines could be maintained. Brian Lee, design partner at SOM said in a statement: "The unique architecture and scale of the West Loop reflects a vital part of Chicago’s industrial history, while the growing residential and mixed-use character of the neighborhood points to an exciting vision of the city’s future." A sweeping graphic runs along the library's walls representing "story lines" from classic children's books and novels that visitors are invited to follow. Coloring throughout is golden and warm, playing off the reddish tones in the exposed brick and wood. Wall text highlights the words of global poets and authors that the designers selected.
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Snøhetta and DIALOG complete a railroad-straddling central library in Calgary

The new Calgary Central Library opened its doors to the public on November 1, a joint project between Snøhetta and Canadian studio DIALOG. The crystallized, aluminum-and-fritted-glass facade of the building’s upper portion belies a warm wood interior, and the entire library rises over an active Light Rail Transit Line that runs from below ground and up to the street level. The six-story, 240,000-square-foot library is expected to welcome twice as many visitors as the previous Central Library, no small feat in a city where more than half of the 1.2 million residents have an active library card. Patrons are welcomed by a massive wood archway at the entrance (made from western red cedar sourced from British Columbia, as with the rest of the wood in the building) shaped in reference to the region’s distinct Chinook arch cloud formations. Inside, past the lobby and atrium, an 85-foot-tall gap was carved that runs all of the way up to an oculus in the roof. According to Snøhetta, each floor was organized on a scale of “fun to serious,” with the livelier programming, such as the Children’s Library, arranged at the bottom of the building, and quieter study areas at the top. Visitors can ascend a sinuous central staircase below the oculus, and peer into the open floors and the stacks at each level. Vertically-striated wood slats were used to clad the edges at each section, extending and refining the woodwork seen in the entrance arch. At the very top is the Grand Reading Room, which, although unenclosed like the rest of the library, is meant to be the most intimate space in the building. Although faced with a difficult site, the design team chose to accentuate the necessary train tunnel at the Central Library’s northern corner. This is where the building’s curved sides join together to form a prominent “prow,” and where an inviting “living room” has been situated. The facade is made up of scattered, rhombus and triangle-shaped panels and windows. The density of the panels has been modulated depending on the level of privacy and sunlight required for each area, and openings carve out views for the spaces that look out over the city. Those strategic cuts also allow curious pedestrians to look into the library, which Snøhetta hopes will entice community members inside.
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Snøhetta to design a sunset-hued library in Far Rockaway, Queens

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. 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. 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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Architect wants to add more windows to Breuer's Brutalist Atlanta library

This week, architects presented revised plans for the renovation of Marcel Breuer's Central Library in Downtown Atlanta to Fulton County officials and members of the public. The new scheme adds large windows to the building's lower stories, and converts some of the library's common areas into spaces that will be rented out by private interests. At that meeting, Tim Fish of Atlanta firm Cooper Carry previewed design and programmatic changes to the 1980 building. The firm plans to add an atrium and more windows to the front of the building, in addition to upgrading the electrical and mechanical systems. While the 250,000-square-foot library is exclusively public property now, the renovations will convert 50,000 square feet into private, leasable space. Library officials are hoping to rent the ground and second floors to restaurant or university tenants. The portions of the seventh and eighth floors that aren't taken up by mechanical equipment will be rented out to private interests, too. Back in 2016, the city wanted to scrap the Brutalist building and replace it with a contemporary structure. But after an outcry from preservationists in Atlanta and all over the country, the city decided to renovate the library instead. The renovation is expected to cost $50 million in total, and bids for construction work will go out next month. The SaportaReport noted that many residents at the meeting spoke out against the windows scheme, and questioned the need for more natural light, especially as adding multiple windows to an existing building is an expensive proposition.
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New renderings released for Adjaye Associates' Florida library

 Last year, a small Florida city commissioned David Adjaye to design a new public library and venue. Now, Winter Park has released new renderings and schematic designs for the building, whose upside-down-lopped-off-pyramidal massing resembles the London architect's acclaimed design for the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.

The new images are more detailed than the collaged ones that debuted last November. Here, the new, 50,000-square-foot facility is depicted with its cast concrete panel cladding that will be painted with a to-be-determined color (current renderings depict an ochre facade). Included in the footprint is a 8,500-square-foot civic center, as well as a parking garage for 200 vehicles. In the two-story library, a central spiral staircase will connect the two floors. At the events center, a spiral stair will connect the venue with the rooftop cafe.

Adjaye's firm, Adjaye Associates, is collaborating with Florida's HuntonBrady Architects on the project, which will supplant Winter Park's civic center.

The library is slated to cost around $30 million, but features like a rooftop venue over the events center could be included if fundraising efforts are a success, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The city is hoping to okay the move to design development at its meeting next week.

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Moshe Safdie to design Boise public library

Moshe Safdie is designing a new library for Boise, Idaho.
Yesterday, the Boise City Council approved a three-month contract with Safdie's firm, Safdie Architects, to come up with a concept design for the 150,000-square-foot public library. The building will be sited on the same five-acre parcel as the existing library, a converted 1940s hardware warehouse. The stacks and related programming will take up the bulk of the new structure, but the building will also include roughly 20,000 square feet of public events space and 20,000 square feet for Boise's Arts and History Department. The initial contract, valued at almost $400,000, would cover preliminary designs, which may include proposals for reusing the existing library building. The total budget for the project is around $60 to $70 million, money that would come from fundraising and public financing, the Idaho Statesman reported. “The City of Boise has a clear vision for how the new Boise Library can be a gateway to the city,” said Moshe Safdie, in a city-issued press release. “The building program, the public engagement process, and the site itself, will be the foundation of a design solution unique to Boise, one that reflects its highest aspirations and values as a community.” Safdie is no stranger to the Heartland. His practice designed a public library in Salt Lake City, Utah, a science museum in Wichita, Kansas, and a performing arts center in Kansas City, Missori. If all goes according to plan, Safdie Architects will work with local firm CSHQA on the Boise building, which should be complete in late 2021. There are no designs available at this time.