HONORABLE MENTION: 2013 national competition project | Library Redesign #025
My school, Brooklyn Technical High School, was originally opened in 1922. Last year the school had a huge celebration commemorating 90 years of excellence in education. Notable alumni attended the event and, in total, contributed $21 million to finance facility upgrades and teacher grants. This source of money makes it very possible to redesign the library to adapt it to the modern scholar.
The William H. Mack Library was actually redesigned in 2001 with a generous contribution from a successful alum. The process of fixing the library was done to propel the technical school into a new century of technology. Brooklyn Tech, originally a specialized public trade school, was founded as a part of the Industrial Revolution. As the 21st century came near, the school's curriculum dropped the focus on technical/ shop classes and implemented a computer-based system of learning, thus propelling the school into the Digital Revolution. However, with a lack of government funding the technological advances have been limited.
Students at my school are extremelly studious. Standardized test scores are above average and many studetns go on to top universities around the nation. However, the current library does not create a sense of a hardworking environment. There are clear flaws. The library's location (5th floor - Center Section, which is in the direct center or "heart" of the building) helps to create a strong metaphor for my project: In a school where studying is at the heart of every student, it is important to have a space dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge at the heart of the building."
With my redesign of the William H. Mack Library I hope to see a greater increase in digital resources. The library will still bear its classic features of an ornate fireplace and an archaic globe which will create a sense of nostalgia, but in general, there will be a major change in the technology available to students. With the new design there will also be new solutions to existing problems such as limited space, overcrowding, improper use of space, lines at the entrance, and the lack of an aesthetic and modern design. I hope to create an environment that will be both comfortable and pragmatic for the average student at Brooklyn Technical High School.
Location: 29 Fort Greene Place
Brooklyn, NY 11217
5th Floor (& 6th floor is proposed)
I don't usually enjoy going to the library at my school, mainly due to the fact that it is very overcrowded and loud. Students do not generally use the space as a study area. In reality, it is used as a place for students to hang out during their lunch periods when the lunchrooms become full. Despite the 7 floors of space that make up Brooklyn Technical High School, the nearly 6000 students crowd the building (especially during lunch periods).
One day I went to the library. That was the first time that I had entered the space in over a year. I walked around and noticed what students were up to. Many were eating and chatting with friends. Some were reading the limited number of textbooks available and trying to catch up on work. It became evident that there was a lack of intellectual curiosity in the library. Many students were huddled around the computer section. These students were waiting for their peers to open up space for them to use the limited number of computers.
I walked around stacks and looked at the various books on display. I found many volumes of interesting books and literature that were not being looked at by anybody. It was a bit upsetting to see all these books just wasting away on the shelves. I approached the librarian's desk to get some more logistics about the library. Here is some of the data that I was able to gather:
-3 librarians on duty on an average day.
-150-200 student capacity per period.
-Estimated 15,000 volumes of literature, magazines, and review books.
-Swipe-In stations at the entrance to verify student's free periods.
-Currently, students may only enter through the west side of the library.
-Students need permission from librarians to enter the stacks area.
-Mr. Williams, the Assistant Principal of English, has an office adjacent to the library.
-Many elements of the age of the school and library such as a fireplace, archaic paintings, and an old globe.
-Teacher's section in the back is usually empty. Rarely used as an exhibit area.
-12 computers available for students. Printers are now broken.
-6th floor area above the library is currently occupied by four math classrooms.
I wanted to identify the biggest faults with the current condition of the library at Brooklyn Technical High School. Much of that information was collected in the last step, so here is a summary: students using the space as an alternate to the cafeteria, very loud, students tend to "trash" the library after each period, lack of technology, outdated design, doesn't support "green" architecture, not a great use of natural light, lack of aesthethic aspects, bad flow, limited space, and lack of interesting events happening there. That seems like a lot, but this project is asking for a way to better the current state of the space, so why not attempt to correct all the issues.
I really began to brainstorm when I started to Google some images of prominent libraries around the world. Many of the images that came up were from universities and central branches of metropolitan areas. The general beauty of many of these places was inspiring, and several specific details became unique features that I wanted to eventually include in my design. I also took trips to several libraries to personally photograph unique elements.
I continued to brainstorm by creating diagrams (room diagrams, flow charts, bubble diagrams, sketches) to maintain the inspiration. I played around with several designs and eventually came to somewhat of a conclusion (at least for this step of the design process). Of course, all of these materials will be uploaded and will be available for viewing under the "Brainstorm Ideas" tab.
After conducting thorough research and spending a good amount of time on brainstorming, I developed solutions that I would like to possibly include in the eventual design. Surely more ideas will develop further along the process, but here are some of the current thoughts:
-More computer access.
-Printing/ copying/ faxing access (possibly at a price).
-Group study rooms.
-Monthly exhibit room.
-Better seating for students.
-Larger collection of textbooks available to students.
-Modern/ Aesthetic design.
-Better librarian desk.
-Second floor for more space (end the limit of people per period).
-East entrance access.
-Better office for librarians.
More solutions will be posted as project develops.
My "Develop Solutions" step mainly incorporated working on my Revit model of the school and library. I started to "develop" the solutions by creating seperate files for the larger builing and the library by itself. I created several views and levels to display the development of my final project. The library include three main levels: The 5th floor, the 6th floor, and the Mid-Level (located between the floors when the second floor of stacks is housed). I also did some non-Autodesk work in this step. I created schedules for the project to help with expenses and furnishing. I also made a quick foamboard model to show the shape of the project I am creating. The model will not serve display purposes, but will help with further development of the project. From the next step, I want to continue adding more details to the models to create my final project.
This step will show the final design of my project. I hope that the next few images will do a lot to inspire and persuade people to realize the effort I expended on this project. I believe that this project has accomplished solving the many issues that my original brainstorm found with the space. I am very happy with my final design. I think I solved problems by creating smart solutions. I would love to be able to study in a library like this one. One small note: I would have liked to render all my images, but the technological limitations at my home and school prevented me from being able to better display the images in the realistic sense that rendering may create. These same limitations also made the rendering I was able to create quite grainy. Sorry for this inconvenience.