JLP+D was selected – as part of a team lead by Marble Fairbanks Architects and including Leah Meisterlin – to participate in Re-envisioning Branch Libraries, a design competition sponsored by the Center for an Urban Future and the Architectural League of New York. The study sought to assess the fiscal and other challenges libraries face today and to propose new programmatic, financial, and architectural solutions that make libraries increasingly important hubs of innovation, education, civic connection and access to economic opportunity.
The partnership presented, at a conference for the design study’s culmination, an innovative mapping visualization using the City’s rich open data resources. This method allows for different kinds of data usually analyzed in isolation – citywide resiliency priorities, neighborhood-level household income characteristics, and local library need, for example – to be seen, examined, and compared together in a five-borough context. This approach creates a new, more powerful tool for library systems, city planners, and elected officials to routinely assess where there is greatest financial and programmatic need, taking into account the demographic and other conditions and shifts that impact each branch, and each local context, differently.
JLP+D assessed the feasibility of co-development of mixed-income housing above reconstructed libraries, and the addition in some locations of ground floor retail. In an article about the libraries competition, New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman called the MFA/JLP+D team’s work “compelling” and tweeted that he was “totally blown away by Marble Fairbanks/Lima proposal using big data to plan whole communities.”