18 West 53rd Street NYPL

Following the idea that circulation is a vital part in architectural design, I wanted to post about a project I saw recently in New York City. The New York Public Library on West 53rd street in NYC, designed by TEN Arquitectoscaught my eye immediately. Situated just a few hundred feet down the block from the MoMA, the building’s intriguing facade is highlighted by the revealed concrete structure. The plain glass skin acts as a clear vestibule for the library, emphasizing its programmatic priority as a public space. The use of glass lures in the passer by, allowing the space to be public not only in program, but also in view.

The reason that I chose to link this project with the topic of circulation is that it has a very unique and extremely effective way to address the concept of Architectural PromenadeIn my previous post I emphasized the importance of using stairs not only as a means of getting from point A to point B, but to create a unique and exciting sequence of events through the building.

As you look in, immediately you can see an auditorium seating arrangement that is meshed with the adjacent circulation. A simple yet very effective design move that creates a well designed experience of this public space in the building, and allows for the library to use it as a lecture hall as well

Front of the Building as seen from the sidewalk (Image courtesy of 10 Arquitectos website)
View of Auditorium from interior

As can be seen in the side and rear sections of the building, the use of circulation is a main programmatic element, as it solves the problem of getting from point A to point B, but also creates public spaces that allow the building to operate in a cohesive manner. The combined staircase and auditorium create a beautiful double height space that draws people in before they even enter the building.

Section 2
North – South Section facing West
East – West Section facing North

Designs like this are not only successful in the manifestation of their design concepts, but also take the assigned program (a public space and library) and create from it an attraction to the average person walking by, regardless of their intent to check out a book or not.

(Images not drawn or photographed by me)

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Maissa Hamed says:

    Great reflection on a beautiful design.


  2. Mohamed Elwakil says:

    Very good analysis. I think you have captured Arquitectos’s design concept very eloquently and managed to link it very well to the architectural promenade concept discussed in your earlier posting. Your selection of the North South Section looking West was very successful in illustrating this idea.


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