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Reports of Design Flaws at Hunters Point Library

Hunters Point Library (Photo: QueensPost)

Oct. 28, 2019. By Shane O’Brien

The newly-opened Hunters Point Library is exhibiting a plethora of design issues, including leaks and cracked floors.

Deposits of water were found in the children’s area of the library, which opened officially on Sept. 24, and cracks have appeared in the library’s floors, officials have confirmed. There have also been reports that the library’s quiet room is not fully soundproof and that the noise of footsteps, coughing and the sweeping of a broom seep into the room.

The New York Post was first to report the story and noted that there were additional problems with the building’s general acoustics and that something simple like pulling out a chair can cause an elongated, echoing screech throughout the building.

A New York Post reporter also observed a crack in the floor that was over 10 feet long.

The New York Department of Design and Construction, which oversaw and managed the building of the library, is  currently investigating the source of the leaks, Lisi de Bourbon, a spokesperson for the library, told the LICPost.

The $41 million library, which opened a number of years behind schedule and was more than $10 million over budget, has faced criticism since the get-go. One problem that quickly emerged was that a section of it is inaccessible to people who rely on wheelchairs.

A tiered mezzanine between the first and second floor of the building can only be accessed by stairs. Therefore, it is inaccessible for people with physical disabilities, some elderly and parents with strollers.

Council Member Costa Constantinides criticized the building’s design last week during a press conference. He noted that all public facilities should be 100 percent accessible to everyone.

The collection of reading material housed in the tiered mezzanine has been relocated to other parts of the library as a result of the criticism.

Tiered Mezzanine at Hunters Point Library on opening day. The upper tiers can only be reached via the stairs (Queens Post)

The tiered mezzanine is now a dead space and librarians have ruled out shelving reading material there for now.

De Bourbon said that QPL was working with the Department of Design and Construction and Steven Holl Architects – who designed the building – to explore possible solutions for the mezzanine.

One of the possible solutions is making the mezzanine a seating area, according to the New York Post.

“Our goal is to be inclusive and welcoming and provide safe access to all, and we are assessing the situation further with the Department of Design and Construction and Steven Holl Architects,” de Bourbon said.

 

 

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43 Comments

Anon

Walcott knew about all of these issues years ago and went ahead with it. He’s the President. The buck stops with him. Staff has been reprimanded and told not to talk to the press anymore. As if reporters can’t see the problems themselves.

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Steve

It is crazy, crazy loud in there! Because of the open, empty, minimalist design, sounds just echo throughout the entire place. It’s built like a rich man’s fantasy apartment–for a porno!–but it fails every standard for a good library. There’s no room for books, not enough quiet spaces, cramped seating areas, a tiny section for kids. And they didn’t even think about handicapped accessibility?! The basic functions of libraries, all the services they provide to the community, were just ignored for this shallow, flashy impracticality. A total triumph of style over substance. And aren’t there a thousand empty warehouse spaces in queens that could have been converted for a fraction of that price? Wouldn’t you prefer five less impressive spaces spread out in different neighborhoods instead of this one disappointing white elephant? (Having said that, it’s, like, two blocks from my house and I’m gonna go ALL the time.)

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LIC Direct

There was no need for a concrete cube on the waterfront – Jimmy Van Bramer pushed really hard for this $41 million dollar money pit. A recreation center would have been a better fit with ice skating rink, indoor basketball courts and swimming pool like World Ice Arena in Flushing Meadow Park a mini Chelsea piers, right across from the park. No vision from our local elected officials. We need them out of office.

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Anonymous

Maybe the library should start a campaign to teach library etiquette. A lot of the noise can be reduced if people showed proper decorum. Control your children, get off the phone, keep your feet off the seats, were your shoes (the floor smelled like feet because one guy was reading the paper bare foot), take your conversations outside, and overall have some respect for someone else.

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Duh

Maybe parents visiting this library should try parking their beefy strollers while their kids are run around uncontrolled and create cacophony at this place called a park that’s just right outside – that should reduce the noise level and clear up alot of space.

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Matt

Haters gonna hate. I love my new library. When I go in, I am blown away by how lovely it is, and I have noticed no problems. I already use it regularly. It’s always filled with happy children and is already contributing a lot to the neighborhood. The quiet room seemed quiet to me. Such a beautiful building too. I love it!

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Gaby

Of course you haven’t noticed any problems, you’re not in a wheelchair, so you’re clueless. That you continue to be clueless even after this problem has been pointed out to you is not due to ignorance, but lack of empathy maybe.

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Neziah Bliss

Seeing the space for children to read and roam in the Flushing Library vs this disaster in LIC is embarrassing. You can fit maybe 20 kids at once in the reading room in this new library. Flushing can fit hundreds. Extremely sad. This LIC library was only meant to be sexy from the outside. Books, reading, community, etc. were afterthoughts jammed into a design that doesn’t care about the community.

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It's done, what to do now...

Leaks and cracks often happen with now construction, the contractor can fix that. Reworking all the design flaws cheap is another issue altogether. They might want to consider converting the entire ground floor conference room into the children’s area as it will contain some noise, free up the elevator, and keep the kids off the steps. It will be vancant 75% of the time anyway as currently allocated. Then they can reshuffle the floor plan and seal off an entire floor as a ‘quite’ room. I guess even a cheaper alternative would be putting boxes of noise reducing headphones on every floor although the sight of readers wearing noise blocking muffs is pretty comical in a library.

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Anonymous

The NY Times loves it .. isn’t that worth something? Ha!

What a Shameful & Sad structure.

Take a good look at this project, this will be the product of any tangible development run by a public entity … reminds me of another city project that was on “thin ice” which had to be rescued by a man who’s name rhymes with Ronald.

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You don't need to capitalize "shameful" or "sad"

Please try to have better grammar than the president.

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stan chaz

How about some sensiblr, simple, reasonably-priced & utilitarian public buildings – where form follows function, instead of buckets of cash being wasted on out-of-touch, useless & well-paid “designers”?
Think of all the money wasted on expensive architectural fantasies by Queens Public Library mismanagement – while they cry poverty each budget session and cut bacl library hours. What’s wrong with this picture?
As the water leaks become worse the inaccessible tiers and stairs will become useless waterfalls we can “appreciate”. Not.
Just as with the backroom boondoggle of the attempted Amazon deal, when the public (and its true needs) are shut out of planning & oversight , then we all suffer the consequences. Trust the people, the people who will ise the services and know what they need.
We could have had three libraries for this price. This, while the Hunters Point branch desperately looks for a permanent home.
This is not the way to run a public library system …unless you simply want to run it into the ground.

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Anonymous

Who takes ownership and accountability of this failure? Does this lay on JVB partially? If so, he should be in the spotlight answering questions as much as he was in the spotlight as an advocate for the project.

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rgs sunnyside

when the city builds something it always becomes a money pit!
thinking 7 train extension hudson yards! shades of boss tweed
court house city hall! sing the song ny ny money grab!

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Brian

$41M for a library for rich kids that’s falling apart. How much did the contractor “donate” to DeBlasio, Costa and Van Bramer for this?

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Cg

Has anyone really looked at this building… it looks like is build by day laborers with plywood forms. Its about the crappiest looking thing i could imagine and it was a gigantic waste of tax payer money. It stands as an example of the NYC governmental malfeasance.

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Typical Queens Voter

Yet everyone involved will keep their job, get re-elected, or move on to higher office. Good job Queens!!

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Anonymous

How disappointing. I’ll still use this library to pick up books that I’ve been wanting to read, but I can’t imagine spending a peaceful afternoon there. The space itself is incredibly loud, difficult to navigate, and has minimal seating for adults. It’s really a shame, I had been looking forward to it opening and now find that I won’t use it.

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MRLIC

Add this colossal waste of money to the Pink Pepto -Bismal Statue on Jackson Ave ($500,000)) and all the money could have been put to better use. Pave the side streets in LIC starting with the LIC Courthouse area,

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Frank

Where will the accountability be? Contractors who were responsible for this need to be banned from City contracts for 5+ years…not the corporate entity, but the owners of said entities. Better yet, let’s open up the bidding process to any firm, regardless of its ties to NYC. Everyone knows that City contracts are a festering source of corruption in this town.

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Wolfsbane

@Frank

It’s disingenuous to blame the contractors as being responsible for the problems. It’s just as likely they were designed into flawed plans. This building is a clearly a badly designed monstrosity. Too much emphasis on style and not enough on functionality. Contractors build what the plans, architect and customer tell them to build.

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Karl

In this case the contractors *are* to blame. They were in receivershipi during much of the building process for being incompetent criminals. The bidding process in NYC is thoroughly broken.

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LICfly

This is comical.. over budget and delayed to come up with this?! They didn’t rush to complete this project right? Only if they had 5 more years and $20M more in the budget… they might have come up with a design that’s safe for children.

“A curved wall in the children’s section resembling a quarter-pipe skateboard ramp had to be blocked off by rolling bookshelves to make sure kids didn’t hurt themselves climbing it.”

“A steep staircase that was quickly made off-limits by librarians because it is not safe for children.”

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Julia Sanser

A huge number of orgs are planning to sue. This library will most probably be decommissioned or remodeled. Or turned into some Govt office. It is not going to last.

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Anonymous

Hate to pile on but this was a train wreck from the getgo. I was staying optimistic until they actually opened it but once they did it was a real disappointment. There is little practical about this library. It’s over designed, has too much wasted space, and is the noisiest library I’ve ever been in. Hopefully they can doctor it up a little without costing too much.

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Bob Evans

That place is an echo chamber! You can hear every conversation and visitor climbing the stairs. It kinda defeats the point of a library. But at least we had a ribbon to cut and another JVB photo opp!

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John O’Reilly

Nice job Jimmy! If you focused on what matters instead of looking for thumb tacks on 43rd Ave., perhaps this apparent gigantic waste of taxpayer money would have been avoided!

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JVB does it again

If this is what he can do as a Councilman, imagine what will happen if he is elected Borough President. Watch how he’ll try spin this to his advantage.

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M

LMAO!!!! What a joke.

Follow the money and see who had their pockets lined the deepest. Then take them to court to get my tax money back.

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MrLIC

Whilst I don’t dispute the possibility of a tasty little gravy train and the attendant gravy spatters on JVB’s shirt, you can’t just write FACT in all caps and expect this to be received as gospel. You are not Chemical Ali.

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