Yesterday, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer announced that construction would finally start on the Hunters Point Library — it’s the first new branch for Queens in over 20 years. Turns out that the shovels will hit the ground this spring, with construction expected to last until 2017. (The initial plan called for a groundbreaking in the fall of 2013, and an opening in 2015.) The library will be located at Center Boulevard and 48th Avenue, next to Gantry Plaza State Park.
The construction budget, which previously soared up to $42,000,000, is now set at $30,000,000 — Van Bramer provided $3,000,000 and pledged to allocate an additional $1,000,000 to complete construction. With the budget cut, some of the original design had to be changed. The building will not have a geothermal well and will have a traditional heating, ventilating and air conditioning system. As opposed to recycled concrete panels on the exterior, it will now be painted concrete. Overall, the size, look, layout and function of the building remains the same — that’s an up-to-date rendering of the design by architect Steve Holl above. Inside, the 21,500-square-foot branch will have a reading garden, rooftop terrace, reading rooms for all ages, a gallery, performance space and a children’s area.
The Hunters Point Library project is actually happening! This morning, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Senator Michael Gianaris, Community Board 2 members, PS/IS 78 students and parents, residents and business owners gathered to announce the beginning of construction of the Long Island City branch. There has been much drama surrounding the proposed library, with funding holdups, struggles to find a developer, high construction bids and design problems. Last year, news surfaced that the Queens Library planned to majorly alter the design by architect Steve Hall due to lack of funding. It’s still unclear how close the actual library will look like the original rendering, but Steven Holl is still the architect of record for the project.
Council Member Van Bramer helped raise $30,000,000 to finally begin construction at the now-empty parcel on Center Boulevard and 48th Avenue. Once complete, it’ll boast 21,500 total square feet, a reading garden, rooftop terrace, reading rooms for all ages, a gallery, performance space and children’s area. Now word yet on the construction timeline. Initially, the city scheduled groundbreaking for the fall of 2013 with plans to open it in 2015. Better late than never!
Hunters Point Library — rendered above — isn’t being built anytime soon. And when it’s finally built, it won’t look much like the rendering, either. In response to the library’s delayed construction time, residents started a petition for mobile library services around Hunters Point. Here’s what they have asked for: “In lieu of a brick and mortar library, we request long-term book mobile service until the library is fully constructed, staffed, and operational. Hunters Point has been without taxpayer-subsidized public library service for far too long. While a stop-gap measure, book mobile service will provide the Hunters Point neighborhood with limited access to books, DVDs, and other library materials, as well as the chance to make use of the expertise of librarians and library staff.”
There are already more than 100 signatures in support, and the goal is to reach 200. If you are interested in signing the petition, just go here.
Earlier this month we reported on the many holdups for Hunters Point Library, planned for the empty lot near Gantry State Park at 48th Avenue. The Times Ledger sheds more details on the library plans, which could be delayed for several years. (Initially, the city scheduled groundbreaking for last fall with plans to open it in 2015.) According to the Ledger, “the entire project is in limbo.” Thomas Galante, the president and CEO of Queens Library who’s gotten lots of heat lately, reported that construction bids for the proposed design ranged from $33 to $42 million. The city only allocated a budget of $28.6 million.
That means major design changes are in store — Galante called the original design by Steve Hall too elaborate. According to the Ledger: “Gone is the Geothermal Well system in favor of a more traditional heating and cooling system. The aluminum exterior facade will now be cement and glass and custom interior fixtures are replaced with standard fixtures. In all, the changes save $4.7 million.” The redesigned project will open again to contractor bids, although it’s unclear when that will actually happen. In the meantime, say goodbye to that library rendering pictured above!
The latest newsletter from the Long Island City Parents Group shed some light on Hunters Point Library, the public library planned for the empty parcel near Gantry State Park at 48th Avenue. The city’s made slow progress on the library, with holdups due to funding and struggles to find a developer. Groundbreaking was scheduled for last fall with plans to open in 2015. Ultimately, the city postponed groundbreaking by approximately a year because most of the construction bids came in 20 percent over budget. Here are more details from the newsletter:
According to real estate sources the curved windows of the proposed design (see picture) will cost “absolutely insane amounts of money.” The plans are currently revised using “value engineering” to cut out expensive features without reducing the square footage of the building. This process should be completed soon and the project will be put up for bids again as early as February 2014.
The modern library design is the work of famed architect Steven Holl.
Image source: NYDN – artist’s rendering of the Hunters Point library building
The Queens Courier reports that some changes will be made to the plans of the future Hunters Point library, thanks to Hurricane Sandy. Those involved with the project have decided that, in light of all the flooding that took place during the superstorm, they’ll grade the land that will support the building one foot higher than originally planned. The original plans placed the structure above the 100-year-flood line, but library officials, architects and members of the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) decided one couldn’t be too careful, and thus the changes were made.