The New York Public Library seamlessly combines the old with the new

The New York Public Library in Stapleton, Staten Island, New York, United States (U.S.) was to be expanded, having served the community for over 100 years.

Andrew Berman Architect was asked to design a new concept, which had to be an inviting, open, and accessible public space for the community. It had to be on a single level, joined with the old, and handicapped accessible. The open spaces should also allow staff to monitor movement, yet at the same time, have strategic separations between children’s, teens, and the adult sections.

Working with the sloping grade of the land, the new building was sited such that a new street entrance could be accessed from grade, without steps. Teen and adult reading and research areas are located in the new building, separated by a transparent community room. The original Carnegie Library, which is immediately accessed off the new entry, was restored true to its original design, and is now the children’s reading room. The structurally glazed facade invites the public and supplies natural light. The exposed wood structure provides a sense of rhythm, scale and material richness unexpected in contemporary public buildings. A radiant heating system efficiently warms the polished concrete floors.

Even though information is now widely distributed in a digital format, the architect sought in this building to assert the enduring relevance and primacy of the book. As such, all walls are lined with bookshelves, putting the entire collection of the library within view, and within reach, of all its patrons.


All images are credited to Naho Kubota