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Staten Island, NY

10,000 SF

Passive Design Features

LEED Silver

Completed 2014

“This long-awaited Staten Island ‘pearl’ is designed to support and cultivate the education of all students of Mariners Harbor, young and old.” – New York Public Library President Tony Marx


The New York Public Library commissioned this new library as part of the Design and Construction Excellence program spearheaded by the NYC Department of Design and Construction. The first library and civic building in its neighborhood, a former oystering community, it has become a catalyst and an anchor. It is conceived and used as a public gathering place, as a place for reading, computer/media access, job search/training, after-school assistance, as well as supporting the traditional function of book repository.


The design concept for the single-story building is an oyster shell cracked open, rough on the outside and mother-of-pearl on the inside, to honor the area’s rich maritime and oystering history. The new library, sited between residential and industrial blocks amid dense foliage, is accessible from South Avenue, and its plan maximizes site scale through integration into the neighborhood context, making it accessible and welcoming.


The slight shift and bending of the library’s volumes create a hospitable entry and transition to its interior. There, a larger volume containing reading spaces and a smaller volume containing support functions are organized along an open, glazed, central circulation spine linking all services. A community room, with audiovisual equipment, and a terrace overlooking the garden are open to the public. Daylight is maximized through the glazed surfaces at the street and garden sides of the library, while a glass roof brings northern light and tree views to the central portion of the building, situated along lot lines.


Environmental and resilient aspects of the library include: siting the building to allow abundant diffused daylight; insulating and sealing the building envelope; energy efficiency; the use of recycled and environmentally friendly materials; water conservation; storm water retention/percolation and preservation of the garden's mature trees.


The exterior shell is Zinc handcrafted by local artisans, fritted low-e insulated glazing and insulated technical glass.



New York Times - “An Oyster, Filled with Books, is Set to Open on Staten Island” by David Dunlap - December 11, 2013


Award for Excellence in Design - The New York City Design Commission – 2009 


Award AIA Speed Presentations Edition 7: Consider Light, Interiors Influencing The Public Realm – March 23, 2016


Award AIA Speed Presentations Edition 5: Inside-Out/Outside-In, Interiors Influencing The Public Realm – April 15, 2014


New York Daily News - “Staten Island’s Mariners Harbor Getting Its Own Oyster-Shaped New York Public Library Branch in Nod to Nautical History” by Beth Strebner - December 14, 2013


Archtober - “Building of the Day” - October 24, 2015 and October 30, 2012


Oculus - Cover Feature: “Public Projects, Small Firms, Targeted Tactics” by Bill Millard - Spring 2012


Architectural Record – Investments in Public Architecture Pay Off for the City by James Murdock, September 2011


The Architectural League - New New York, 2001-2010: The City We Imagined, the City We Made group exhibit - 2010

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