Dec. 19, 2017 By Nathaly Pesantez
Construction on the the Hunters Point Library is delayed once more, and is expected to be completed in August 2018 with a possible opening in 2019.
The update on the $40 million project was announced on Dec. 18, when the Department of Design and Construction and the Queens Public Library testified on the progress of several library projects during the City Council Subcommittee on Libraries meeting, chaired by Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Long Island City).
“The DDC will substantially complete our portion of the work by August 2018 and turn it over to QPL [Queens Public Library],” said Ana Barrio, the DDC’s acting commissioner.
Dennis Walcott, the president and CEO of the Queens Public Library, then said that it could take up to six months to outfit the library after construction is completed, bringing the opening date to February 2019 at the latest.
“It is a unique design,” Walcott said at the meeting. “When we talk about outfitting a normal library it can be three to four months. With Hunters Point we are saying six months.”
Van Bramer questioned the DDC and the QPL on the series of “horrific” mistakes that have led to the project’s multiple delays, including the fiasco involving the glass used for the library’s windows.
The architect, Steven Holl, insisted that a specific type of glass be used for the building due to its lighting and heat features. The glass chosen was manufactured in Germany, glazed in Spain, and eventually exported to Connecticut before reaching Long Island City. The glass was held up in Spain, however, due to a dock workers strike.
All the glass is now at the library site, with 80 percent of it installed through the building. The library’s west side, however, has yet to have the glass windows installed.
The DDC said the glass on the western side has not been installed because of IT work being done to the building’s upper level through the uncovered opening. The IT work is expected to wrap up at the end of December, with the glass to be installed in the western side’s opening by the end of January.
But the IT work is not the source of the delay to the library’s opening, which was scheduled to open its doors in early 2018. Construction was expected to conclude in September 2017.
In fact, Barrio had informed Van Bramer during a site visit over the summer that the agency would wrap up construction in the summer of 2018. It is unclear what the change in dates stemmed from.
Van Bramer said multiple high-level officials from the DDC have given him a variety of completion dates to the project, only to have the date revised.
“The original completion date of this project was 2017,” Barrio said to Van Bramer. “I can only go by what I have informed you. What you were informed previously I cannot speak to that.”
The library, under construction since 2015, has repeatedly seen delays. It was originally scheduled to open during the first part of 2017, but was then pushed to the end of summer 2017. The strike in Spain pushed the project back another six weeks.
The groundbreaking on the Hunters Point Library was also delayed, with construction starting in 2015 as opposed to 2013. The groundbreaking came two years late due to the city’s problems with finding a contractor to work with the project’s budget, which resulted in the library getting a simpler design.