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The $41 Million Hunters Point Library Now Has A Leak Problem


After an uproar earlier this month over its accessibility, the brand new Hunters Point Library in Long Island City is facing renewed criticism amid leaks, cracks and other issues raised by patrons and librarians.

On Tuesday, Elisabeth de Bourbon, a spokesperson for the Queens Public Library, told Gothamist that one of the leaks, which was reported by the NY Post, stemmed from an insufficiently insulated door leading to the rooftop area that had allowed water to seep in. She said there was another instance of water found in the children’s reading room that was the result of a faulty sprinkler.

The issue with the door is being addressed, while the sprinkler has been fixed, she said.

She added that the city’s Department of Design and Construction, which oversaw the nearly 10-year, $41 million project, is looking into the reports of cracks, which the Post also noted in its story.

The problems draw further attention to the library’s costly and time-consuming design that was initially celebrated by architecture critics but has since been panned by users. Earlier this month, Gothamist reported that the library contained three-tiered sections used to house fiction books that were accessible only by stairs. In response, Queens library officials relocated the books from those areas.

In July, someone created a Twitter account under the handle @new_lic which regularly tweets snarky observations about the new library.

“As a patron, it’s not great,” Meghan Cirrito, a Long Island City resident and former Queens librarian, told Gothamist. “As a former librarian, it’s really disruptive in terms of service.”

According to Cirrito, the library’s maze-like interiors have resulted in cramped workspaces as well as a lack of physical and visual continuity between sections.

Similarly, a librarian at the Hunters Point library told the Post, “I would have liked more space, more shelves.”

She added: “I’d like for the floors to be open where you can see everyone and everything. It is best for their safety and our safety, too.”

Both patrons and librarians have also complained about the harsh acoustics inside the building, which is lined with concrete and bamboo walls.

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An aerial view of the lobby from one of the ramps.

Jake Dobkin / Gothamist

A spokesperson for Steven Holl Architects downplayed the concerns, saying in an emailed statement, “The few issues that have come up are wrinkles normal to the opening of any new building, especially when the building is receiving such a huge audience.”

The firm said the library had seen 30,000 visitors since its opening.

“The Hunters Point Library is a testament to the value of public space, and the desire of the community to have such a space to visit,” the statement said.

Built under the Design Excellence Program, an initiative started under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Hunters Point Library was intended to serve as an example of a civic monument, a sharp juxtaposition from the cash-strapped 1970s, when under Mayor John Lindsay, the city built cheaply fabricated library buildings that became derogatively known as “Lindsay boxes.”

However, Cirrito argued that those buildings proved to be practical. “I think that the takeaway for me is that it’s more important for a city-owned building to be utilitarian as opposed to an architectural showpiece,” she said.

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