Oct. 20, 2020 By Christian Murray
It’s been a long time coming but the new Greenpoint Library & Environmental Education Center has finally opened.
The new library at 107 Norman Ave. opened today and replaces the former branch building that was demolished in 2017.
The new branch is a three-story state-of-the-art facility that is twice the size of the old building that was deemed outdated and undersized.
The new library, designed by Marble Fairbanks, features indoor and outdoor spaces for activities related to environmental awareness and general library usages.
The building includes a large community event space, a first floor plaza, reading rooms for children and adults, as well as lab spaces for interactive projects.
The library, which is 15,000 square feet, also features outdoor reading and demonstration gardens, and there are also accessible green roofs on the upper floors of the new center.
The opening of the branch, although currently limited to grab-and-go service due to COVID-19, represents a major milestone in the Brooklyn Public Library’s effort to redevelop or revitalize a third of its branches.
“The new Greenpoint Library models the enormous potential of public libraries in the 21st century,” said Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library. “In 2020, in Brooklyn and beyond, we need more libraries like this one: that make vital knowledge and beautiful design accessible to all, that empower people from all walks of life to come together and build a more sustainable, more just world.”
The new library was expected to open in December 2018, but due unforeseen construction issues and the pandemic, the opening date was pushed back.
Construction work was slowed after workers encountered asbestos underground and the old Carnegie library foundation.
The Carnegie library stood at 107 Norman Ave. from 1906 to the early 1970s. It was demolished for the previous building, but its foundation was not completely removed.
Harsh weather conditions and drainage problems also led to construction delays. Then the pandemic struck.
The new library, which cost about $23 million to build, was partially funded by a $5 million grant from the Greenpoint Community Environment Fund–money that was given to Greenpoint as part of the state settlement with ExxonMobil for years of oil pollution. The remaining source came from city and state funding.
The building itself features solar panels, rainwater cisterns, rooftop rain gardens and open green space.
“Libraries are a great equalizer in New York City, and we’re proud to support dynamic, beautiful, and environmentally sound spaces for the next generation of Brooklynites to learn,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement.
“The Greenpoint Library and Environmental Education Center will be more than an essential free, high-quality resource for families – it will be a bulwark in our fight against climate change and an anchor for this iconic neighborhood for years to come.”