Designing experience through architecture and environment:

Library as Village

Imagining a new and necessary stance for a New York City public branch library in the 21st century.

Design NYC’s branch library of the future: communal third place in an age of rapid urban development, digital media and new ways of working.

The Library as Village, an underground library that connect different community spaces above — trading development rights for financial support and high-density housing.
Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP)
Core II Architecture Studio
Stella Betts, instructor
Spring 2016

Published in Columbia GSAPP’s Abstract 2016.

In the center of Downtown Brooklyn, the library as village balances the need for parks and infrastructure with the encroaching pressure of development. A lease of development rights on the designated site, at the intersection of Fulton Street and Bond Street, secures financial stability for the library in exchange for high-density housing.

The displaced library transforms Albee Square into a village. A garden surrounded by four programmatic volumes — the anchor, tower, cafe and pop-up — the village performs on its periphery the diverse set of community functions demanded of the modern library. At its heart, however, are the garden and reading room below.

Both figure and ground, building and street, above and below, the library as village embodies its role as third place: as defined by Ray Oldenburg, a truly public space distinct from the home and workplace. Inhabiting new territory, the library as village defines a new form for an essential civic institution in the 21st century.

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