Glen Oaks Branch Library replaces an existing one story facility with a new 18,000sf high performance, LEED certified building located at the juncture of a low scale commercial/institutional area with a suburban residential neighborhood. The program includes reading rooms on all three levels, a cybercenter, and community meeting spaces.
The above grade massing and material treatment respond to the very different site conditions on each elevation, while the interior library spaces are open plans with reading rooms on all three levels.
As the building area required is double that allowable by zoning, half of the interior spaces are placed below grade. A double-height space adjacent to the building entry and three strip skylights in the plaza bring light through a contoured ceiling to define more specific reading areas in the reading room below. The profile of the contoured ceiling is read at the double-height space, making a visual connection between the plaza surface and the ceiling surface, accentuating the artificiality of the ground. The landscape strategy takes into account the ground surface’s dual role as an outdoor public space and its inversion as the roof of the cellar below, exploring the relationship between artifice and nature.
A large picture-window along the front elevation provides views into and out of the second floor children’s area, while also satisfying the Library’s desire to provide a civic identity to the community. Other exterior materials, including channel glazing and fiber cement board paneling, merge the scale of the library to Union Turnpike and its residential adjacencies.