The Borough of Queens, New York, was recently abuzz with excitement about the grand opening of the Hunters Point Library, a building that has been cited by the New York Times as “one of the finest and most uplifting public buildings New York has produced so far this century.” Offering breath-taking views of the Manhattan skyline from its perch on the East River, this new library will serve the most diverse urban center in America.
Like most public building projects, Hunters Point Library took years to complete and had a massive budget overrun. However, this beautiful structure is free to enter and is open to all. It seems to me every penny spent will be worth it! The Queens Public Library is one of the largest and busiest public library systems in the United States, offering free access to a collection of more than five million books (systemwide); materials in multiple languages; technology and digital resources, and more than 80,000 educational, cultural, and civic programs a year.
The vision for the building was brought to life by Steven Holl Architects, who saw it as an opportunity to “sculpt” a free-of charge “third place,” based on the work of Dr. Ray Oldenburg. Readers of Arts & Culture Connection may remember the blog about Dr. Oldenburg, author of the book, The Great Good Place. Dr. Oldenburg identified the “third place” as neutral, public places where people gather, hang out, informally interact, put aside their concerns and simply enjoy the company and conversations around them. He says “third places” are the heart of a community’s social vitality, providing the foundation for both a civil society and the grassroots of democracy. He also believes they are essential for the health of the community, as well as the health of its residents.
I believe the Hunters Point Library will be all of that and more, and I am thrilled that the residents of Queens have this new facility from which many youth will take flight and thrive! Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below or send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org