Elmhurst Branch Library

CompanyMarpillero Pollak Architects
Lead DesignerMarpillero Pollak Architects
Design TeamSeverud Associates (Structural Engineer) Ambrosino, Depinto & Schmieder (MEP Engineer) DESIGN 2147 Ltd (Code Consultant) Steven Winter Assocaites (LEED Consultant) Allan McCollum (Selected Percent for Art Artist) Accu-Cost Construction Consultants, Inc. (Cost Estimator) Construction Specifications (Spec Writer) GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. (Geotechnical) Jenkins $ Hungington (Elevator Consultant) Shen Milsom & Wilke, Inc. (Acoustic Consultant) TM Technology Partners, Inc. (IT/Security Consultant) Stalco Construction, Inc. (General Contractor)
PrizeArchitectural Design / Cultural Architecture

With 80,000+ users, speaking more than 57 languages, Elmhurst is second busiest circulating library in Queens Library’s (QL) network of 64 libraries. This Design Excellence Project replaces a 1904 Carnegie library and multiple additions with a new 30,500 sf building, fulfilling QL’s mission of access, transparency, and technology, and providing a neighborhood anchor and community hub. The library’s Z-shaped massing maximizes the impact of the existing Community Park and new Learning Garden, which opens visually to a stand of mature oaks at the urban block interior. To reinforce the library’s significance as a public institution, its program spaces cater to diverse age groups with spaces for Early Childhood, Children, and Teens, an Adult Learning Center, with ESL Classrooms open after hours, and a Community Meeting Space. These and other interior spaces interact with multiple views of outdoor green spaces. The “Portals” contribute to identity, support orientation, and stimulate interaction among diverse users, towards new synergies. The building’s exterior envelope is a terracotta rain-screen with aluminum inserts marking floor slabs and integrating rhythm of windows. Stainless steel panels articulate volumes of curtain wall emerging from this (relatively) solid wrapper, which also performs as a backdrop for the Cubes-- suspended structural glass spaces that position patrons in larger environment: one above an urban thoroughfare, and one within the Community Park. The Cubes, which glow as luminous beacons after dark, are calibrated to relate to the scale of existing historical fabric, including the 1776 St. James’s Hall. The Broadway Cube is visible from afar, announcing the library’s presence; it floats above the Main Entry and book depository, made with bricks salvaged from the original Carnegie building. The Park Cube makes legible the operations of the library’s two main floors, with a monumental stair, grounded below and cantilevered from above.