We are pleased to announce that SKOLNICK Architecture + Design Partnership and 1100 Architect were recently recognized in the New York Times for their work on The Children’s Library Discovery Center (CLDC) at the Queens Central Library in Jamaica, Queens.
SKOLNICK’s Design Role at the CLDC
Our firm responded to 1100 Architect’s architectural design for the building, a glowing translucent glass box added to the existing traditional library building, with a design language that could be strongly identified with the CLDC. In contrast to the clean, white facility architecture, SKOLNICK incorporated color, texture and form, as well as bright striated ‘pathways’ and wayfinding graphics as a means to invite, direct and engage library visitors.
Once visitors pass through a colorful, illuminated portal signifying the entry point to the CLDC, they encounter a large, custom floor map of Queens that utilizes unique logos of various borough landmarks to orient visitors to the borough. From this map, color pathways lead visitors to various destinations such as Circulation Desk, book stacks, Early Childhood Reading Area and Cyber Center computer area. Additional pathways meander up the central staircase, guiding visitors to second level reading areas.
The thematic environmental graphics that expand from the central floor map, sculptural iconography based on the same 2D icons, and way finding signage developed by SKOLNICK bring science alive and re-imagine the role of books in a library. The CLDC is the only public library in the US to incorporate interactive museum exhibits into a traditional, reading-rich library environment. The CLDC’s tabletop exhibits, designed around children’s literacy, science, technology, and math, were inspired by input from experts in the field of interactive children’s science exhibits at the Exploratorium, the New York Hall of Science, and Brooklyn Children’s Museum. In addition to sculptural icons depicting rockets, planets, atoms and other scientific topics, an enormous acrylic wave incorporates changing lighting and motion to mark the location of the Early Childhood reading area. This area engages young children with other aquatic themes including colorful ABC murals depicting kids at the beach, overhead kinetic sea life mobiles and a large freshwater aquarium.
The modern library functions as a ‘town square’ of sorts, offering a variety of services for all ages, and assisting patrons from many different backgrounds in accessing information. The CLDC serves the most ethnically diverse county in the US, including children who represent 80 countries and speak more than 50 languages. The iconography was developed with this in mind in order to make the library easy to navigate by all. The floor map helps visitors locate significant landmarks such as subway lines and cultural attractions, as well as the other 62 libraries in the Queens Library system. Additionally, certain icons play audio tracks when patrons walk on them – the crack of a bat from Citifield stadium, train announcements on the LIRR, piano music from the Steinway Piano factory, etc. A media presentation on the central staircase wall consists of animated projections that present common words in Queens’ most spoken languages – English, Spanish, French, Mandarin, Korean and Russian – in visual and auditory form using children’s voices.
As part of New York City’s Design and Construction Excellence program, Queens Library was able to take advantage of this innovative and ambitious public works program that works in partnership with exceptional, high-quality and creative design professionals to develop new libraries. As part of New York City Dept. of Health’s Fit City initiative to encourage building design that can increase physical activity and improve public health, the CLDC’s sculptured central stairway encourages visitors to walk rather than use the elevator. The CLDC facility has a LEED Silver certification.
All photos by Michael Moran