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Design Consultant: Marble Fairbanks Architects
Client Agency:
Queens Library

Overview: Located at the juncture of a residential and commercial neighborhood in Queens, this new branch library is designed to welcome the neighborhood and harmonize with its scale while providing controlled natural light for the library’s users. In order to meet the zoning code, much of the building is located below an at-grade plaza, which provides a planted open space for the neighborhood. The public areas of the library are organized on three levels, and include circulation and information services, general adult collection and seating, young adult collection and seating, children’s area, and meeting rooms. Private spaces include a workroom, offices, staff lounge, and support spaces.

Sustainable Features: Daylight, which decreases energy consumption while enhancing productivity and enjoyment, was central to the design concept and enters the library in a variety of creative ways. As the below-grade lower level constitutes over half of the building program—including the main adult reading room—creating a well-lit space underground was of primary concern. A double-height space connects the ground floor to the lower level, inviting daylight from the above-grade windows to illuminate the lower floor. Three strip skylights in the plaza bring more sunlight down to define specific reading areas within the adult room.

Light from different directions can have very different qualities, and requires different treatment to create a pleasant reading environment.  The north face of the building has clear glazing, because of the softness and evenness of northern light, while the western glazing is translucent and insulated to protect against the heat, harshness, and glare of western light. Channel glass with embedded fiberglass insulation forms the upper, translucent, insulated west wall; the lower glass wall is screened by a graphic film with narrative text. Sunlight projects the word “search” in relief onto the north curtain wall, varying in scale and legibility as a result of the time of day, weather, and season.

Noteworthy Accolades:

  • LEED Certified
  • Design Excellence Program
  • Public Design Commission of the City of New York in Design Award
  • AIA Merit Award



Marble Fairbanks Architects 

Structural Engineer / LEED Consultant

Buro Happold

MEP Engineer

Plus Group pllc

Civil / Geotechnical Engineers

Langan Engineering & Environmental Services

Landscape Architect


Lighting Design

Richard Shaver Architectural Lighting


 LEED Info [PDF]     Project Team [PDF]

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Sustainable Site

Stormwater retained and cleansed on-site, collected for reuse
Neighborhood scale reinforced and outdoor community space provided
Alternate transportation encouraged
Urban Heat Island Effect mitigated
Nighttime light pollution reduced
Brownfield redeveloped
Air pollution reduced during construction

Library has a landscaped public plaza, with integrated planters
Below-grade space keeps building massing consistent with the neighborhood
Stormwater detention system, with cleansing
Energy Star® roofing, with high emissivity
Exterior lighting by shielded step lights, no pole or wall-mounted fixtures
Urban setting near public transportation
Bicycle racks and showers
Ultra-low sulfur fuel and clean technology to be used in construction vehicles
Buried oil tanks removed


Water Efficiency

Potable water use reduced in building – at least 20% over 1992 Energy
Policy Act
Potable water use eliminated for landscape irrigation

Low-flow fixtures, metered faucets
Collected and cleansed stormwater used for irrigation
Native drought-resistant plants



Energy use reduced – 30% over ASHRAE 90.1-1999 baseline
Fossil fuel use reduced
Ozone depletion reduced
System-operations integrated

Radiant heating and cooling in floor
Daylighting for reading areas, offices, and public areas, using a variety of
types and screening techniques
High-performance lighting with daylight and occupancy controls
Envelope improved with insulation and high-performance glass
Demand-based ventilation controlled by CO2 sensors
High-efficiency variable-air-volume system, fans, and pump motors
Heat recovery system
Extended commissioning of systems


Material Conservation

Construction & demolition waste – 75% required to be diverted from landfill
Recycled materials - over 10% target for materials
Local products given preference – target 20% of materials

Construction and demolition waste to be sorted at off-site facility
Major materials targeted for recycled content, including fly-ash in concrete,
steel, gypsum board, acoustical tile ceilings, resilient flooring, ceramic tile,
carpet tile, and toilet partitions
Major local materials targeted include masonry, concrete, steel, gypsum
board, pavers, and landscape materials


Healthy Interiors

Daylight is maximized to more than 75% of rooms, including below-grade
Optimized fresh air quantities
Building systems and occupants protected from construction contamination
Reduced exposure to toxins, volatile organic compounds, urea formaldehyde
Occupant comfort enhanced

Daylight brought into the building through a variety of devices – view
windows, monitors, and skylights. Direct sun diffused by graphic films,
channel glass, and skylight shaping
CO2 monitors control fresh air
Winter humidification included
Permanent monitoring system for temperature and humidity
Air quality management during construction; flush-out planned
Low-emitting paints, carpets, adhesives, sealants, non-urea-formaldehyde
composite woods


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