Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects

Steven Holl punctures concrete New York library with "sculpted cuts"

Steven Holl Architects has completed a concrete public library in New York's Long Island City featuring large irregular windows that offer views of the waterfront and Manhattan.

Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects

Hunters Point Library is a six-storey building by local firm Steven Holl Architects in Hunter's Point, Queens. It is on a waterfront site along the East River, with expansive views of Midtown Manhattan.

The library comprises a simple rectangular form built from a cast-in concrete that is painted with aluminium for a silvery finish.

Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects

A curved terrace is carved into the top of the building, while a variety of large windows puncture the simple rectangular on its four sides.

These glazed openings include a geometric, slanted window with rounded edges on the exterior that faces Manhattan, and the three others with similarly curved corners on the rear side.

Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects
Photograph courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

"Sculpted cuts are carved out of the facade, showing the movement of people within and framing expansive views of the Manhattan skyline," the firm said.

Hunters Point Library spans 22,000 square feet (2,044 square metres) and is complete with a rooftop patio and a public park. Inside, floors contain a series of different reading rooms and spaces tailored to adults, children and teenagers.

Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects
Photograph courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

"The vertical structure reimagines the traditional library model, providing diversity of spaces from intimate reading areas to active gathering spaces," said Steven Holl Architects.

Upon entering is a lobby with an information desk that also works for book returns. A small sitting area, restrooms and an auditorium with a stage are also located on the main level. A linear staircase scales the project, and is positioned next to the window that frames Manhattan.

Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects

The stairwell is designed as open and draws the eye upwards, past thousands of colourful books that are visible across several floors. The stairs switch back from one mezzanine to the other, across the different levels and connect all of the spaces.

"While the plan is compact, the building section of the new library is open and flowing to allow for the most energy-efficient design and the greatest amount of public green space on the site," the firm said.

Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects

A mezzanine above the ground floor contains an adult reading section and a children's area, and the level above it contains reading collections that are divided in half across the floor, for adults and children as well.

A quiet room and more reading areas are located on the first floor. Staff offices, a lounge and a technology centre are placed above. On the fourth level are a cafe and a reading area for teens. A terrace accessed from the eatery has steps to a rooftop patio, located above the fifth floor.

Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects
Photograph courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

Much of the reading rooms and areas of Hunter's Point Library are designed as open spaces with ample natural light. Bamboo clad walls, ceilings and shelves offer a warm, natural touch that contrasts with the silvery exterior.

Rounding out the library are back-off-house areas, mechanical rooms, and several restrooms across the floors. The library is complete with a plaza and a garden with ginkgo trees planted next to a detached volume, which accommodates a park station.

Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects
Photograph courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

This library, like all public libraries in Queens, has a separate operating system from the New York Public Library (NYPL), which functions in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Brooklyn's libraries function independently as well.

Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects

Hunter's Point Library forms part of a major redevelopment of the waterfront in Queens, following the completion of Hunter's Point Park by firms SWA/Balsley and Weiss/Manfredi last year.

In addition to this project, Steven Holl Architects has completed several other buildings recently, including an extension to the Kennedy Center in Washington DC and Maggie's cancer centre in London.

Photography is by Paul Warchol unless stated otherwise.


Project credits:

Client: Queens Public Library, New York City Department of Design and Construction
Lead architects: Steven Holl (design architect, principal), Chris McVoy (senior partner in charge),
Olaf Schmidt (senior associate in charge), Filipe Taboada (project architect, associate), Suk Lee (project architect CA)
Project team: Bell Ying Yi Cai, Rychiee Espinosa, JongSeo Lee, Maki Matsubayashi, Michael Rusch, Dominik Sigg, Yasmin Vobis, Jeanne Wellinger
Landscape architect: Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates
Structural engineer: Silman
Mechanical, electrical engineer: ICOR Associates
Lighting design: L'Observatoire International
LEED consultant: ADS Engineers
Civil engineer: Langan Engineering & Environmental Services
Fire technician consultant: Rolf Jensen & Assoc
Cost estimator: Davis Langdon
Specifications: Construction Specifications Inc
Climate engineer: Transsolar

More images and plans

Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects
First level plan
Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects
First level mezzanine plan
Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects
Second level plan
Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects
Third level plan
Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects
Fourth level plan
Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects
Fourth level mezzanine plan
Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects
Fifth level plan
Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects
Sixth level plan
Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects
Site plan
Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects
Section plan
Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects
Section plan
Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects
Cross section plan
Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects
South elevation plan
Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects
West elevation plan
Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects
Queens Library at Hunter's Point by Steven Holl Architects