by Linda G. Miller
NYPL Cuts Ribbon on Mecanoo’s Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library
The New York Public Library (NYPL) recently cut the ribbon on the completely transformed Mid-Manhattan Library, now known as the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL). The project is a collaboration between Mecanoo, who led the design stages, and Beyer Blinder Belle, who led the historic preservation and acted as architect of record. Located on 40th Street and Fifth Avenue, the library has an annual circulation of two million items, generating challenges in access, organization, and storage. The design solution offers more space, more books, more seats, and lower shelves. The building functions as a contemporary complement to NYPL’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (SASB), with features that reflect the harmony between the two. Long tables recall the impressive scale of those in SASB’s Rose Main Reading Room and ceiling artwork echoes SASB’s neoclassical ceiling paintings. SNFL also uses classic materials, including natural stone, terrazzo, and oak. To maintain the building’s 400,000-book capacity while creating an open, welcoming space with plenty of natural light, the architects created the Long Room along the eastern end of the building, which offers five levels of browsable book stacks fronting a 42-foot-high atrium, as well as two connected floors of education and programming spaces, meeting rooms, and consultation rooms. Above the Long Room, the fifth and sixth floors host a business center and a learning center. The new seventh floor, which is built at the original building’s roof level and has pitched wood slat ceilings, contains a flexible 268-occupant conference and event center. Above the seventh floor, a new roof slopes up to cover mechanical equipment, with an angled, patinated copper-colored aluminum surface inspired by Manhattan’s Beaux Art copper-clad mansard roofs. An L-shaped roof terrace, Manhattan’s only free and publicly accessible terrace, features a garden and an indoor café. The building now housing SNFL opened in 1915 as the Arnold, Constable & Company department store designed by T. Joseph Bartley. NYPL took over the building in 1970 and occupied all floors by 1976. Giorgio Caviglieri carried out a complete renovation of the space in 1978 by but the building never lost its department store aesthetic. The most recent renovation was the result of support from New York City and a $55 million grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
Brooklyn Public Library Central Library Partially Reopens After Phase One of Toshiko Mori Renovation
The partially reopened Brooklyn Public Library has completed Phase One of the multi-phase redevelopment to restore the Central Library on Eastern Parkway and Flatbush Avenue to its original grandeur and transform it into a more flexible, modern building. Designed by Toshiko Mori Architect, the renovation returns space formerly used for administrative needs back to the public by creating four new spaces while anticipating how people might use the library in the future. The new Major Owens Welcome Center welcomes visitors as they enter through the library’s famous gilded entryway, framed by 15 bronze sculptures of famous characters and authors from American literature. The welcome center will process check-outs and returns and direct patrons to services throughout the branch, just as when the building first opened in 1941. Across from the center is an exhibition about Major Owens, a BPL librarian who represented the borough in the House and was known as the “librarian in Congress.” Just off the grand lobby, patrons can find the latest fiction and nonfiction titles in the new 1,190-square-foot “New & Noteworthy” gallery, which holds approximately 2,000 books and contains space to read amid natural light from large windows overlooking Grand Army Plaza. A new and enlarged Business and Career Center features custom-designed wood counter seating, four private meeting rooms, seven conversation nooks, a co-working area with laptops for loan, and two large seminar rooms, including one with automated presentation equipment. A new glass-enclosed staircase leads to the Info Commons. Improvements include the restoration and refurbishment of the historic oak wood paneling, newly poured terrazzo floors, and new lighting. The second phase, which begins in 2022, will update the collection wings and continue to create new spaces while making upgrades to the building’s infrastructure.
Heatherwick Studio’s Little Island Opens to the Public
With Little Island, New York has a new green space on the west side of Manhattan unlike any other in the city. Designed by London-based Heatherwick Studio with landscape design by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects (MNLA), the 2.4-acre park is located in Hudson River Park with a main entrance at West 13th Street and the Hudson River at Pier 55. The park is supported by 280 concrete piles, which emerge in between the leftover wood piles of Pier 54, which were largely preserved to maintain habitats for aquatic life. On top of the piles, 132 concrete “tulips” make up the structure of the park. Each tulip’s shape is unique and has a different weight load capacity to hold soil, lawns, overlooks, and trees. The park features a main plaza with food and beverage offerings, seating, and expansive lawns; an amphitheater seating 687; an intimate performance space and secret garden. All throughout, the park offers views of the city and the Hudson River as visitors meander through winding pathways and three distinctive overlooks. The landscape design features plantings that provide an environment that changes with the seasons, with flowering trees and shrubs, fall foliage, and evergreens. More than 66,000 bulbs and 114 trees have been planted, some of which will grow to 60 feet. Engineering firm Arup led the structural development of the park’ structures, along with the design of the park’s subsurface and theatrical infrastructure. Conceived in 2013 in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the vision for Little Island was driven by and primarily funded by the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation.
Melrose North by Curtis + Ginsberg Breaks Ground
Curtis + Ginsberg Architects broke ground on Melrose North, a 154,000-square-foot residential building in the Morrisania section of the South Bronx that replaces a vacant New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) waste facility site. The 12-story building with a brick façade in shades of grey has varied setbacks and a ground floor that has oversized windows. Upon completion in 2023, the project will be distinguished by a 120-foot mural wall. Melrose North will contain 170 supportive and affordable units ranging from studios to three-bedrooms. Infrastructure upgrades include a new compactor space to serve the neighboring NYCHA buildings and a fully accessible ramp that leads to the adjacent Melrose Northbound Metro-North station. The project also includes a 5,600-square-foot landscaped yard and a 5,100-square-foot arts education facility for youth operated by DreamYard. The project, which meets Passive House and LEED Gold standards and implements Active Design principles, is being developed by the Bronx Pro Group and NYCHA.
OMA to Design Centre Pompidou x Jersey City
Jersey City and the Centre Pompidou announced the creation of Centre Pompidou × Jersey City, scheduled to open in 2024. In the coming months, OMA /Jason Long will work with Jersey City and the Centre Pompidou on the design of museum, located within the historic Pathside Building in Journal Square adjacent to the PATH. The existing building, constructed in 1912, retains many original historic elements including original brick masonry with terracotta and cast-stone elements and a limestone and cast-stone ground level, which will be preserved. With a floorplate similar to that of many leading arts institutions, the building allows for flexible open spaces for use as galleries and for a variety of other cultural uses. Generous floor-to-ceiling heights and ample access to daylight offer a number of opportunities for the future fit-out of the existing building. The Centre Pompidou will provide its expertise to create an ambitious program emphasizing education via hands-on artistic experiences, with a community component central to Jersey City’s inclusive vision for the future, making the Centre Pompidou × Jersey City a promising multidisciplinary art laboratory for cultural programming. Originally slated for residential units, Jersey City acquired the building in 2017 with the intention of creating a new arts and culture hub. Other recent cultural developments in Jersey City include the Landmark Loew’s Theatre, Scitech Scity, NJCU Performing Arts Center, Provost Square Performing Arts Theater, and Nimbus Dance Works.
Ennead Architects Breaks Ground on Steelhouse Omaha
Ennead Architects broke ground for Steelhouse Omaha, a new live music venue for Omaha Performing Arts (O-pa), Nebraska’s largest arts organization. The new building, a part of O-pa’s arts and entertainment campus expansion, will provide flexible entertainment spaces and programming opportunities that support the community’s evolving needs, seamlessly transforming from a live music concert venue to a dance performance hall to a community gathering space. The project is adjacent to the Holland Performing Arts Center, which was also designed by Ennead in 2005. While in dialogue with the Holland, the use of exterior steel cladding references the site’s history of manufacturing, giving it an industrial feel. The over-103,000-square-foot venue will have a standing room capacity of up to 3,000 and will feature multiple amenities, including a lounge and terrace, outdoor courtyard, and lobby for simultaneous use and programming. Omaha-based Holland Basham Architects serves as architect-of-record.
In Case You Missed It
Construction began for the Universal Hip Hop Museum in Bronx Point, designed by S9 Architecture in collaboration with Marvel. The project also features a 22-story affordable-housing complex, event spaces, and a nearly three-acre park along the Harlem River.
OMA/Jason Long and Live Nation, a live entertainment company, revealed the design for The Terminal, a 5,000-person-capacity music venue in Houston, TX. The project is housed in the city’s latest major downtown development project, POST Houston, the transformation of the 550,000-square-foot Barbara Jordan Post Office into a hub for culture, food, shopping, and recreation topped by a five-acre rooftop park.
Under the K Bridge, a green space beneath the Kosciuszko Bridge in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, has opened. The project features elevated lawns, a rain garden, wetland gardens, and a large hill for watching performances, along with a plaza and connections to the bike and pedestrian path on the Brooklyn side of the bridge above. The project was designed by Public Work, an urban design and landscape architecture firm based in Toronto, Canada.
The winners of Low-Rise: Housing Ideas for Los Angeles, include Vonn Weisenberger and ROART. The design challenge explores new paths to homeownership and new models of affordability in low-rise neighborhoods across Los Angeles.
Ennead Lab conducted a feasibility study for a community center at the base of an avalanche-prone mountain in Alta, Utah. The solution is to lift the building out of the predicted flow of the avalanche.
Curtis + Ginsberg Architects is the first architecture firm to be awarded the prestigious Ivory Prize for Innovation in Housing Affordability in Construction and Design.