Re-envisioning NYC Branch Libraries
In Progress

Re-envisioning Branch Libraries is a speculative design proposal commissioned by The Architectural League of New York and Center for an Urban Future. This work is architecture – and then some. The project invitation brought us into collaboration with a team of other designers, planners, library scientists, developers, technologists, and strategists. The final proposal of fictional designs is rooted deeply in research, and informed by the unique challenges of fortifying public institutions for the future.

Our team operated from an understanding of libraries’ essential civic role. More than just books, these buildings are platforms for public exchange, community centers, and linchpins of social infrastructure. Simply imagining more inventive buildings would not, in isolation, improve-on the mission of libraries holistically. Instead, we envisioned innovations across a portfolio of communications design and strategy proposals, which together would build momentum to revitalize the city’s libraries.

Our ideas breached the confines of traditional architectural planning. The proposal ranged from identity systems, to ambassadorship, to collaborations with other civic institutions, to a “Radical Maintenance” program. The ideas collectively informed a new era of capital and civic investment in the city’s library system. They have been incrementally implemented in NYC libraries, establishing new standards for economical upgrades to these invaluable institutions’ social and architectural longevity.