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Transparency and Nonchalance at New Queens Public Library

Times architecture critic jumps from South Bronx to another civic project in Queens this week, as part of what we're interpreting as recurring coverage of the "quiet revolution reshaping the city’s public architecture." The place: Jamaica, Queens. The building: a library and children's science center. The designers: 1100 Architect with interiors by Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership. The force behind the deal: commissioner David J. Burney of the Department of Design and Construction. Since 2004, Burney and the DDC have been working with Mayor Bloomberg to bring "fresh architectural standards to the city’s infrastructure," often to overlooked neighborhoods on the periphery of media attention (ahem).

In the instance of The Children's Library Discovery Center and other new, media-rich versions of the public library, the focus is more "community center" than "tomblike quiet for archival research." Think toddler playrooms, ESL classrooms, internet access, recording studios. Neither is the architecture shy: "At two stories, it is scaled to match the mix of low-rises in the area, although its shiny, sleek facade of textured and opaque glass makes it look about as inconspicuous in this context as Angelina Jolie at a Wendy’s drive-through."
· New York's Public Architecture Gets a Facelift [NYT]