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New York, NY | 3,600 SF | Sustainable Design Features | Educational




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Photographs by APT

This school library is located in the neighborhood of East Harlem in New York, which is also known to its residents as “El Barrio” or “Spanish Harlem”. Latin, Caribbean and Italian communities make up a vital part of this neighborhood.


PS.50’s elementary school building, designed in the 70’s by Conklin & Rossant, contained a grey concrete library with dark toned waffle ceilings and interior spaces without natural light. Its location within the school made it exposed to heavy and loud traffic from teachers and students throughout the school day. 


APT's design scheme aimed to enclose the library through the addition of large modular storage walls, making the space more conducive to studying and bring more light into the library by opening up its waffle ceilings and allowing them to act as light reflectors.


Around its external perimeter, the modular storage elements became graphic walls advertising the library and within the library space, create shelving, act as computer counters and provide bench seating.


To create the effect of an illuminated floating sky, we stained the waffle ceiling white and designed the lighting to strategically fit within it.


The library’s materials and technologies, the ergonomic furniture, and the ceiling with LED lighting respond to the latest environmental and health requirements developed with the client.

This project is part of Atelier Pagnamenta Torriani’s architectural acupuncture interventions in NYC: a transformative series of public school libraries that are expanding their educational purpose by rebuilding communities through culture.

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