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Great in-‘tent’-ions. Snohetta reveals new design for Far Rockaway Library

Sharon McHugh reports for World Architecture News. 23478_3_snofarroc3 [Images: Snohetta and Doug & Wolf.] These days libraries are so much more then repositories for books and information. They are also vital community hubs where neighbors gather to discuss important topics of the day or just to see one another.  During Hurricane Sandy, New York’s Far Rockaway Library in Queens served as a refuge from the storm and was the ‘go-to place’ to receive critical updates on neighbors and friends. Taking its cue from the idea that a library is a catalyst for community transformation, Snohetta’s newly revealed design for the Far Rockaway Library envisions a more encompassing progamme than a typical library with more community services planned. The new library will replace the existing one and double its area. The simple 'tent like' structure is clad in fritted, colored glass with a gradient of color reminiscent of the sky off the coast of Long Island. The transparency and translucency of the facade provides an awareness of the activities within while offering the occupants a good degree of privacy.   Entry is at the corner though a tall pyramidal opening. 23478_1_snofarroc1 The interior spaces are organized around an inverted pyramidal atrium that allows light to penetrate the ground floor whilst providing a view of the sky from within the building. The clear entry and the building’s transparency help orient the visitor to and through the building.  In response to Hurricane Sandy the building is sited at an elevation exceeding the new FEMA flood zone guidelines. 23478_2_snofarroc2 The project, which is currently in design development and is designed to meet LEED Silver Certification, has received the Public Design Commission of the City of New York’s recognition for outstanding public projects, the Annual Award for Excellence in Design. As part of New York City’s Percent for Arts programme, Snohetta will be collaborating with an artist to create a site specific artwork within the library.    

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