Like most libraries hoping to remain relevant in the age of Google and Kindle, the Queens Public Library is well aware that many are predicting the book-borrowing institution will one day be a relic of the past.
So QPL decided to go with the information flow, by transforming its central location in Jamaica, New York, into a gathering place that focuses on kids’ education and that offers plenty more than books on loan.
Enter 1100:Architect, a firm with offices in New York and Frankfurt. It created the 1,300-square-metre glass box that houses the new Children’s Library Discovery Center. The facade’s lustrous panels includes irregular windows offering glimpses inside, to draw people in.
Once inside, kids and their caregivers are treated to white interiors, with modern fixtures and bookcases offset by bright, multicoloured graphics. The signage – with a focus on interactivity – was created by the exhibition design experts at Lee H. Skolnick Architecture & Design Partnership.
Starting with the orientation kiosk and its colour coding for “early childhood,” “non-fiction” and “fiction” sections, the visuals practically reverberate with vibrant hues. There’s an interactive floor map of Queens – depending on where you stand you can hear the specific noises of a particular corner of the neighbourhood.
And the learning labs help kids ages three to 12 immerse themselves in all manner of subjects. The science zone, with its ceiling-suspended molecular structures, features interactive exhibits on everything from bugs to mirrors to magnets.
Meanwhile, the sculptural central staircase and the lounge area by the stacks, with sleek furnishings and white-on-white fixtures, lets teens and young adults feel like they’re in a high-end book store.