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Beacon of Knowledge

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Photos by Michael Moran

Text by Risa Seidman

At the intersection of Merrick Boulevard and 90th Avenue, the Children’s Library Discovery Center (CLDC) stands out amidst the squat, brick low-rises of Jamaica, Queens in New York City. Its façade, a luminous, Mondrian-like mosaic of rectangular glass tiles, draws the eye, creating an inviting space for locals. “The glowing effect achieved by the façade is a strong visual reminder of the library’s role as a community beacon,” says Juergen Riehm, principal of 1100 Architect, the firm behind the library’s design.

The library’s incandescence isn’t just for looks, however. “High performance glazing on the building’s skin insulates and reduces glare, thus lessening the energy burden on heating and cooling systems,” Riehm explains. “The union of visual innovation and tangible practicality acts as a governing principle in the design of the project.”

Inside, the CLDC is no less vivid. The library’s interior sparkles with gleaming white surfaces, infused with neon- bright signage and details. A colorful floor map of Queens serves as a focal point for the space, as well as an informational graphic about the cultural diversity of the borough.

Such a white-based palette might, in other cases, make the space seem too sterile, but the inclusion of cozy reading nooks and social areas lend the library an inviting warmth. Plus, science-and math- themed exhibits interspersed among the book stacks make the CLDC the only free learning facility of its kind in the area. “The CLDC is visited daily by so many children and their caregivers, as well as public schools using it as a classroom extension for the science and math curriculum,” Riehm says. “The community’s all-out positive response to the project makes us most proud.”

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