Manhasset Public Library

The new Manhasset Public Library effectively replaced a smaller, outdated library building on a very small suburban site. The new library building is comprised of 4 levels totaling approximately 38,500 square feet, nearly two and a half times larger than the original building built in the 1950’s. Many new sites were evaluated and additions and alterations to the existing building were investigated, but in the end it was decided to build a new library immediately adjacent to the original. The new location is situated at a major traffic intersection that gives the building prominence within the community. The use of brick on the façade was imperative as a way to sow the new library into the fabric of the existing adjacent residential and commercial neighborhood.

The new building represents the culmination of over 5 years of discussion and debate over the construction of a new library for the Manhasset community. The building occupies a transitional site between residential- and commercial-scale buildings along the very busy Northern Boulevard in Manhasset. A mansard roof conceals the library’s third floor which also allows the building to appear smaller. Due to site constraints the library building was designed with three stories plus a basement level. A grand, decorative staircase connects all levels. The facility accommodates the required future growth of collections and provides for adequate patron seating and level of services.

The architectural vocabulary of the new library was derived from some of the older local vernacular as well as from the work of H.H. Richardson, an acclaimed 19th century library building architect. The abundant use of stone and brick veneer has helped give the building a sense of monumentality, but with a warmth and sense of neighborhood that other materials would not be able to achieve. Warm tones from some of the older adjacent brick buildings are echoed from the new library and then harmonized as a whole employing a mansard, constructed of terne-coated steel, which assists in reducing the building mass to a more residential scale. Since the construction of this building, there have been numerous efforts made by some of the newer adjacent properties to emulate the color and textural qualities of the new library – thus bringing forth a greater sense of continuity of material utilization in the local area.

The imagery of the children’s library is based on the book, “The Secret Garden” written by Frances Hodgson Burnett, a local resident, furthering the community-based design concept. One of the requirements during the early programming and design phases was to guarantee a substantial increase in the amount of book shelving to be provided for the subsequently growing collections. This would seem unusual in today’s technology-driven society, however the building’s interior design has proven to be flexible to accommodate both the standard paper-media collection as well as electronic resources for the ultimate benefit of the Library’s patrons and personnel.