Brooklyn Boro

Sunset Park interim library receives prestigious architecture award

One of only five buildings nationwide to be cited

May 25, 2021 Jaime DeJesus,
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The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the American Library Association announced the Sunset Park interim library  — located inside the historic former Sunset Park courthouse on Fourth Avenue  — was one of the 2021 AIA/American Library Institute’s Library Building Awards winners.

As such, this is one of only five library buildings in the United States that were so honored.

The award honors library buildings that exemplify “design achievement, including a sense of place, purpose, ecology, environmental sustainability and of history,” according to a statement by the AIA, which is a group that advocates the value of architecture and gives resources to architects. 

The Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) was thrilled by the award.

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“The innovative design by Leroy Street Studio [the architectural studio that designed the interim library] turned a former courthouse into a bright beautiful modern library,” said a spokesperson for the BPL. 

“And with window shading, comprised of screens and sculptural mobiles, made in collaboration with students from the Center for Family Life, the library truly reflects the community it serves, making this award even more special,” the spokesperson said.

One of the interim library’s innovative features is a vending machine that allows card holders to rent laptops for up to two hours. Eagle photo by Jaime DeJesus

Two years ago, the neighborhood’s library branch opened its interim space at the landmarked former courthouse, 4201 Fourth Ave., which also contains Brooklyn Community Board 7.

One of the unusual features of the interim library is a vending machine that allows card holders to rent laptops for up to two hours while on site.

“The design for the Sunset Park Library is grounded in the community that helped shape it,” said Shawn Watts, a partner at Leroy Street Studio. “Early and consistent engagement with library staff, patrons, and local stakeholders, was vital to creating space for the services and programming the neighborhood depends on. 

“We are honored to have played a part in creating this vibrant community hub and thrilled to see how the work of the students from the Center for Family Life elevated the space.”

While locals enjoy the interim branch, the BPL and the Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC) broke ground in February 2019 on the long-awaited new state-of-the-art Sunset Park library, to be housed in an eight-story building that will also incorporate 49 units of affordable housing, at 5108 Fourth Ave. 

The original Sunset Park library, a Carnegie library built in 1905, was torn down in 1970. The library that is now being replaced dates from 1972. 

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