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New Long Island City library designed

The most anticipated addition to the Long Island City landscape, the new library at the Queens West Development in Hunters Point, is ready to become fact, not fiction.

The Queens Library Board of Trustees approved the design of the new Hunters Point community library this month. The project, by architect Steven Holl, in collaboration with his partner Chris McVoy, is scheduled to begin construction early next year. It will stand on a prominent waterfront site just across the East River from the United Nations.

Steven Holl Architects was selected this past summer to head up the design of the library, which will provide the community with state-of-the-art services and a space for community programming.

The library’s $28 million price tag was paid for by donations from nearly every elected office – including the governor, the mayor, the senate, the assembly, the city council and the borough president’s office. However, the library was probably most championed by City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, a former employee of Queens Library.

“A lot of people have worked very hard for a very long time on this world-class project,” said Van Bramer. “To see the plans and the library finally taking shape – it’s a very gratifying time.”

Thomas W. Galante, chief executive officer for Queens Library, said that to have such a broad swath of elected officials involved in one project is very rare, and only adds to the uniqueness of this library.

“We got everyone involved and they all contributed a significant amount of funding,” said Galante, who added that the project would not have been possible without money and help from the Queens West Development Corp. “They [QWDC] have been very supportive. They got us that property.”

The models and renderings give a sneak preview of the 20,000-square-foot library, which will include book stacks, reading areas, a gallery and a public assembly multipurpose meeting room for community programming. Giant, abstract windows are carved out of the library’s façade, giving readers a glimpse of the adjacent waterfront park and the view of Manhattan.

The design of the library aims to be environmentally friendly as well, with the latest technology – including geothermal wells, which will heat and cool the building, eliminating the need for loud units on the roof.

With all of the environmental and aesthetic amenities, Galante was delighted to learn about the relatively small cost of building the library.

“One thing that really got me, was that they [Steven Holl Architects] found a way to design something iconic that will be what we want it to be, but he did it in a cost-effective manner,” he said. “It will be an iconic beacon of learning, but also functional and affordable, too.”

As for a timeline for completion, the final design phase will be completed by November 2011, followed by construction bids running through February 2012 – and finally, full completion is tentatively set for November 2013.

When the library appears on the banks of the East River, Van Bramer believes that L.I.C. will finally have something it has always lacked – a center for the community.

“Even with a growing and thriving community in Long Island City, one of the things we’ve needed is a focal point,” he said. “A place to go and congregate and meet and celebrate – this library is going to be that focal point.”

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