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Boro designs earn accolades

Steven Holl (l.), architect of the Hunter's Point Community Library, stands in front of a model of the proposed site with Queens Library Chief Executive Officer Thomas Galante at the reception for this year's Awards for Excellence in Design. Both the library and the Museum of the Moving Image, where the ceremony was held, won prizes. Photo by Rebecca Henely
By Rebecca Henely

An ambitious museum renovation, a new diesel monitoring booth in Corona and plans for the library at the Hunters Point development were Queens’ three honorees at the 29th-annual Awards for Excellence in Design Monday.

While Mayor Michael Bloomberg was not able to attend the ceremony due to the death of his 102-year-old mother Charlotte Sunday, Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris delivered the prizes to the 11 recipients at the Museum of the Moving Image, at 36-01 35th Ave. in Astoria, which was also one of the winners. The awards, begun in 1982 and chosen by the city Design Commission, honor public projects with a high design standard.

“Today there are more exceptional projects underway than ever before,” Harris said in a statement. She was once the executive director of the commission, then known as the Art Commission.

Thomas Leeser of Brooklyn-based Leeser Architecture, which created the $67 million expansion that doubled the floor space of the museum and added a multitude of new features, said it was an honor to have the awards held at the museum, especially since the prizes are usually given to projects in the planning phases, not completed projects.

“I’m very happy that it’s a public building and the public has accepted it, embraced it,” Leeser said.

The museum was one of three projects to win in Queens. Another winner was a new diesel monitoring booth at Harper Street Yard, located at 32-11 Harper St. in Corona, designed by the city Department of Design and Construction and the Department of Transportation. Part of a larger reconstruction of the yard, the new monitoring booth is a small structure where workers will watch the DOT trucks that come to the yard to refuel, and is designed with a black arrows on white pattern and a yellow interior. Faith Rose, public design liaison with the DDC, said the booth is proof that smaller projects can also win big at the awards.

“It’s new and it’s lovely and the guys who work there every day are very happy about it,” Rose said.

The third winner was the plans for a community library at the planned Hunters Point Development, located along the waterfront near 50th Avenue and 2nd Street in Long Island City.

“It feels wonderful,” said Thomas Galante, chief executive officer of the Queens Library. “It’s great to be recognized for all our hard work.”

Galante said the new library will be evenly balanced between books and technology and an environmentally friendly building with a green roof, reflecting pools and geothermal wells.

“It’s going to be a great community place,” he said.

Of the rest of the winners, three were from Manhattan, three from Brooklyn, one from Staten Island and one from the Bronx.

“These 11 projects in all five boroughs showcase how public projects can help enhance our city physically while adding to its cultural, civic and recreational life,” Bloomberg said in a statement.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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