It’s an interesting place, Battery Park City. While it effectively exists apart from New York City — and all the built-in efficiencies that make New York City such a surprisingly green place — Battery Park City is both a pretty nice place, and very green in its own right, at least in terms of its ultra-green condo and rental buildings. Yes, Battery Park City is also home to Manhattan’s first Applebee’s, but the views are great and the buildings are nice and if there was one thing that one could grouse about as regards Battery Park City — besides the aforementioned Applebee’s — it would be that it doesn’t have a 23,000-volume LEED Gold branch of the New York Public Library. Those so inclined should do their grousing now, because Battery Park City is getting that LEED Gold public library you’re always grumbling about. The building, which was designed by 1100 Architects and is the result of an 11-year campaign to bring a library to BPC, opens its doors on Thursday at 175 North End Avenue. As it turns out, the BPC branch of the NYPL is located in one of the neighborhood’s greenest residential buildings, the LEED Gold Riverhouse.
In the New York Times, Bao Ong takes a look inside the $6.7 million library. “[The building features] wood floors constructed from window frame scraps, old truck tires laid out as carpet, and a terrazzo staircase made of recycled glass and mirrors,” Ong writes. “A high-tech, oversize touch screen computer mounted on a wall by a seating area under the cement stairs filled with tangerine orange pillows lets patrons see how much energy and water is consumed by the library in real time.” All that in addition to the computers (including some laptops that can be checked out for use within the library) and flat-screen TV as well as those things that libraries also have…pretty sure they’re called books. While the Battery Park City library will apparently lack the things I remember best from my town’s public library — a card catalog and a vague year-round smell of heat and flatus — it offers everything that any New Yorker could ask from a public library. Well, except for being open very often: due to impending budget cuts, the Battery Park City library may wind up being open just three or four days a week, Ong reports. Which would presumably do even more to keep the energy bills down, but which also is something of a bummer.
However many days a week it winds up being open, though, it’s likely that the residents of Battery Park City are overjoyed to have their library at last. In the Tribeca Trib, Matt Dunning reports on the relief of Battery Park City-ites at finally getting their library after 11 years of setbacks, political wrangling and hold-ups. If it’s half as good as Ong makes it sound, it seems like the wait may well have been worth it.