Elmhurst Community Library

Queens, NY

Celebrating neighborhood diversity 
With 80,000+ users speaking more than 57 languages, Elmhurst is the second busiest circulating library out of Queens Library’s 64 branches. This NYC-DDC Design Excellence Project replaces a 1904 Carnegie library with a new 30,500 sf building, providing a neighborhood anchor and community hub.
The library’s Z-shaped form maximizes the impact of the existing Community Park, now fully preserved, and makes space for a new Learning Garden that opens visually to a stand of mature oaks at the urban block interior. To reinforce the library’s significance as a public institution, its program spaces cater to diverse age groups including two floors that are  accessible after hours as a community center.
The building’s exterior envelope is a terracotta rain-screen with aluminum inserts marking floor slabs and integrating the rhythm of windows. Stainless steel panels articulate volumes of curtain wall as a backdrop for the Cubes –suspended structural glass reading rooms that situate patrons in the larger environment. After dark, the Cubes appear as glowing beacons, one suspended above an urban thoroughfare and the other nestled within the Community Park.
The Broadway Cube, floating above the Main Entry, is made with bricks salvaged from the original Carnegie building. The Park Cube makes legible the operations of the library’s two main floors, featuring a monumental stair that is grounded below and cantilevered from above.

Completion Date


Project Team 

Owner: Queens Borough Public Library

Client: NYC Department of Design and Construction

Structural: Severud Associates

MEP Engineer: Ambrosino, Depinto & Schmieder

Lighting: See/Arch

Signage: T Squared

Artist: Allan McCollum

General Contractor: Stalco Construction, Inc.


Richard Barnes


Best of Design For Civic Educational Design, The Architects Newspaper

Best of the Year, Brooklyn Queens AIA Design Awards

Merit Award, American Architecture Prize




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