Marpillero Pollak Architects masterfully designs new library in Elmhurst, Queens
SOURCE: The Architect’s Newspaper
DATE: February 17th, 2017
BY: William Menking
Read the original article on ArchPaper.com.
If you think public libraries are an institution with a proud past but a problematic future you have to visit the new Elmhurst Public Library by Marpillero Pollak Architects. Commissioned in 2004 by New York’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC), it’s not just a triumphant work of civic architecture, but one that creates community and celebrates what it means to be a public institution in 2017.
The building is entered through a small community park on the corner of Broadway and 51st Avenue and transforms this amorphous Queens corner adjacent to Queens Boulevard into a centralized urban core. Its primary envelope is a terra cotta Rain Screen facade with aluminum inserts that mark the floor slabs and act as a connector to front and back double height glass cubes. These two structural glass spaces position patrons in the larger environment: a rear community park and the urban thoroughfare of Broadway. The Cubes, which glow as luminous beacons after dark, are calibrated to relate to the scale of the existing historical fabric, including the landmark 1760 St. James Episcopal Church Parish Hall across Broadway. They announce the library’s presence and the front cube floats above the main entry’s “memory wall,” which is made of bricks salvaged from the original Carnegie building. The interior of the Broadway cube is covered by a relief in elm wood from the artist Allan McCollum and is visible through the glass walls from the street.