Project DescriptionFROM THE ARCHITECTS:
This project is located in the existing Church of Our Lady of Lebanon in Brooklyn, NY. The project was initiated by the temporary move of the Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklyn Heights Branch to the Church while the permanent library is being constructed.
The project, though relatively small in scale is an important project in the transition from the existing library to the temporary library. The interim library needs to not only fully function as a branch library for several years, but it needs to be a welcoming space for the existing library community. Beyond that, there are two different communities to consider for this project – the Church community and the Library community. The project involves the renovation of the existing Parish Hall inside of the existing Church to the temporary home of BPL’s branch library. It’s an interior renovation that acts like a building renovation in that it needs to have a public welcoming face for the library without compromising the independent identity of the Church. The solution is an open, light filled space that utilizes text and graphics that provide for signage, wayfinding and identity to the library and its community.
From the inside, the design strategy is simple - to maximize the openness of the existing hall while still providing for private spaces at the librarian staff area and the Multi-Purpose Room. The solution is a single translucent “worm” wall - a BookWorm that bellies out at the ends to create the private working and gathering spaces with access to light and fresh air and then bellies in at the middle to create a large shared open space for reading, studying and browsing books. The lower portion of the bookworm wall contains book shelves and the wall above is comprised of translucent “Panelite” panels and a text graphic of Walt Whitman’s poem, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”. Whitman’s poem creates a background of floating text for the activities that take place in the library reading area and a text filter through which to see the transmission of light and views from the private spaces of the staff offices and the library meeting room.
The concept of text integrated within the architecture extends to the outdoor signage and wayfinding graphics at the entry and street. The text “Brooklyn Public Library” is painted on the existing alley entry wall to welcome visitors to the new temporary branch library.
From a practical standpoint, the scope of the temporary library includes the build-out of the main hall for use by the library visitors and staff as well as the build-out of new bathrooms, staff room and storage space. The project includes both design and building maintenance issues in order to change the C of O and bring the mechanical equipment up to current energy code standards. The scope also includes structural reinforcement to the existing space to accommodate the additional live and dead loads of the library.