Inside the Building of the Day #13

Thursday, October 13, 2011
The Francis Martin Library in the Bronx. (Courtesy Ben Kracauer)

The Francis Martin Library in the Bronx. (Courtesy Ben Kracauer)

We are up in the Bronx again today, this time further north in the Morris Heights neighborhood. The Francis Martin Library, named after the first district attorney from the Bronx, was built in 1956, and sits atop a hill on a prominent corner of University Avenue. The University is Bronx Community College, now housed in what was originally the McKim Mead and White Heights Campus for New York University. Be sure to check out the original Hall of Fame there. 1100 Architect has made its own Hall of Fame for the kids’ library. Stanley Kubrick, Chaim Potok, Herman Wouk, Colin Powell even Fiorello LaGuardia himself are part of a graphic game on the warm white walls that undulate around the core of the children’s library renovation on the second floor.

The interiors are by 1100 Architects.

The interiors are by 1100 Architects.

With an astonishing economy, separate areas for age groups are created by the magic of a swerving and swooping stretched glossy fabric ceiling. The Barrisol product (think Anish Kapoor) is used to modulate the ceiling height into two main areas, and to create a specular white surface that swims with distorted reflections, taking on the bright colors of the casework, furnishings, and carpets. I asked David Piscuskas, FAIA, the 1100 Architect partner in charge what his favorite aspect of the project was: “realizing such a significant transformation for an oft under-served community at modest cost.” Sweet reading time for the Bronx kiddies is the result.

-Cynthia Kracauer

For tour info on tomorrow’s Building of the Day click here: West 57 POP by Rogers Marvel.

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