Those of you who have ever laid eyes on the public library in Greenpoint know that it is a bit of an eyesore in an otherwise picturesque neighborhood. But not for long. The Greenpoint Library is about to enter a new incarnation to bring residents the modern, sustainable facility that’s increasingly necessary in an age that’s threatening to make books obsolete.
The original Greenpoint Library was constructed in 1906 and only replaced once in the 1970s due to deterioration. The current building will be replaced by a larger, more modern green building with an added environmental education center that’s due to open in the spring of 2018.
The project is being funded by a $5 million grant from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund and a $6,030,300 matching contribution from the Brooklyn Public Library. GCEF is a $19.5 million grant program established with the settlement funds from the ExxonMobil oil spill in Newtown Creek.
The new library, located on the same corner of Norman Avenue and Leonard Street, will boast much more indoor and outdoor space in addition to reduced annual water and air pollution and energy use. Goals detailed on the GCEF website include 80% reduction of heating and cooling, water use reduced by 50,000 gallons, elimination of 33,600 pounds of air pollutants, and the treatment of 70,000 gallons of storm water. The addition of an environmental education center aims to boost awareness and environmental conservation and will offer local residents environmental education programs and special collections as well as a meeting space for local environmental groups and public programs.
According to the GCEF website, new features and functions will include:
- A green roof and community composting space
- Native plant landscaping and permeable pavement to replace concrete
- High efficiency HVAC and lighting systems
- Water-efficient plumbing
- Rainwater harvesting and storm water runoff control systems
- Alternative energy systems, including solar arrays and wind turbines
Ten architect firms bid for the project and the winning firm, Marble Fairbanks, was chosen by the Brooklyn Public Library in September 2015. They have recently released the renderings, which offer projected images of the building from several viewpoints. The new space will have all of the traditional library features and will also have multiple green roof spaces, an eco lab/lounge, a large meeting and events space, and a landscaped plaza.
During construction, there will be no access to the site, so residents will have to visit other library branches. The nearby Leonard branch in Williamsburg is the closest option for Greenpointers. However, a spokesperson from the Greenpoint Library branch said that there is a possibility of a bookmobile being set up in Greenpoint during construction.
The project will keep the community informed about the benefits of going green during and after construction of the new building by holding community workshops and presentations. Residents have already been given the opportunity to get involved by voting for their favorite features to be included in the new library and environmental center. Construction is due to begin in late 2016, but there is no exact date set yet. The best way to stay informed is to sign up for project updates on the library’s website.