Since 2001, a group of more than 50 school libraries within the New York City public school system have undergone a transformation thanks to the Robin Hood Foundation's “L!brary Initiative.” The program seeks to encourage reading and to reach out to children using one of the only spaces—the school library—in which all grades interact. P.S. 110, on Manhattan's Lower East Side, and P.S. 31, on Staten Island, are the latest duo in a program that has touched down in every borough.
The challenge for the architects at Leroy Street Studio and lighting designer David Clinard was to develop a lighting strategy that could respond to the different site conditions (P.S. 110 has 14-foot-high ceilings, while P.S. 31's ceiling are only 9 feet 6 inches tall), and retain “a singular cost-effective approach,” Clinard explains. The solution is a custom-designed dimmable T8 triple-tube linear fixture that can either be pendant- or surface-mounted, depending on the location. In keeping with the playful architectural motifs established by the architects, Clinard designed the luminaire with a series of colorful (yellow on one side, green on the other) circular baffles which bring to mind a Slinky, but which also serve to shield the three lamps from direct view. A rotate-and-lock mechanism provides easy access for relamping.
The library initiative realizes that a school library is more than just a place to store books; it is a place for learning and social interaction that deserves both architectural and lighting design consideration. As the libraries at P.S. 110, P.S. 31, and the others in the program illustrate, creative and inventive design solutions for these spaces promote the value of good design and make a significant investment in the children's education for the long-term.
Jury Comments: A simple yet animated interior that accomplishes a lot with modest means. • Nice use of color. • It's refreshing to see lighting as a valued component of good design.