Long-Delayed Environmentally Friendly Library Finally Opens in Greenpoint

Photo by Craig Hubert

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A new, environmentally conscious library is finally open in Greenpoint.

The project has been years in the making, further delayed by the arrival of COVID-19. Located at 107 Norman Avenue, at the corner of McGuinness Boulevard, it replaces an old one-story library at the site—known as a “Lindsay Box,” after former mayor John Lindsay—that was demolished in 2017.

greenpoint public library

The library in 2014. Photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark

The branch was often “bursting at the seams” with visitors, a representative for the library said, which facilitated the expansion and redesign of the new building. For the moment, only grab-and-go library service is available.

greenpoint public library

View of the front entrance

During a tour of the new library last week, Brownstoner was finally able to see the results. Designed by architects Marble Fairbanks, the building has an open area in the front facing Norman Avenue that local residents are already using to eat their lunch or enjoy a moment of rest. The facade has both floor-to-ceiling windows and sandblasted wood panels.

A bioswale, running along the outside of the building, is adorned with plants and helps filter rainwater.

greenpoint public library

Children’s book section

greenpoint public library

Children’s area with a specially designed insect-themed rug. Outside the window is part of the bioswale

Most of the first floor is a big, open space. On one side are shelves for adult books, wired tables to do work (and charge devices), and self-checkout machines. On the other is a children’s area, with books and an open space for activities and events. Here visitors can find special architectural details such as a series of thin solar windows, where, at noon, the sun shining through the windows aligns with floor markings that connect the light to seasons as they change (like a sundial).

Three meeting rooms at the back of the first floor each feature a wood wall from a different tree native to the neighborhood, including ash, walnut and red oak, which were harvested from forests that are responsibly managed, according to the library.

greenpoint public library

A section of the library dedicated to young adult fiction

On the second floor is a space dedicated to books for teens, a large, flexible meeting room and, most enviable, a large outdoor area that is open to the public for relaxing and reading if the weather permits.

greenpoint public library

Open space on the second floor

A roof deck, not open to the public but where special events and programs will take place, contains a “pollinator garden” and the solar panels that help power the library.

greenpoint public library

The roof deck

greenpoint public library

A view of the solar panels from the roof deck

In 2014, the Brooklyn Public Library received a $5 million grant from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund, a state-run program that manages the $19.5 million settlement awarded to the state over the ExxonMobil oil spill in Newtown Creek. Another $1.8 million came from the New York State Education Department and over $14 million from library and city capital funding.

[Photos by Craig Hubert unless otherwise noted]

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