October 2, 2017

Jonathan Marvel Sketches Out a Brooklyn Heights Library

For a Brooklyn Heights library, Jonathan Marvel’s reference point was the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris by Pierre-François-Henri Labrouste. Image by Jonathan Marvel. 

“As a small child in Puerto Rico, I didn’t have access to a neighborhood library. But ever since I moved to Fieldston in the eighth grade and banged out my first school paper at the local branch, I’ve loved libraries. There’s a two-story, 25,000-square-foot Brooklyn Public Library branch at the base of the 36-story apartment building that Marvel Architects has designed for a triangular corner lot in Brooklyn Heights. The reference point for the library component of the project is the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris by Pierre-François-Henri Labrouste. Like a temple, the library is a place for assembly and for acquiring knowledge. Our goal was to evoke the sense of a sacred space, both for people and for books. When it’s complete in 2020, you should be able to see each of these four sketches translated into a physical moment in a way that’s uncanny. These starting points, these vignettes, are typical of our process at Marvel Architects. They’re done with the brush tip of a Japanese pen on 4-inch squares of bond paper. I like to do 25 of them, put them in a row, and organize them. I throw some away, add some—an exercise that becomes a game for me. I do this for every project. I now have a collection.”—Jonathan Marvel

A rendering of the library. Image by Marvel Architects. 
A reading nook. Image by Jonathan Marvel. 
The help desk. Image by Jonathan Marvel. 
A break-out area. Image by Jonathan Marvel. 
Jonathan Marvel, founding principal at Marvel Architects. Photography by José E. Jiménez-Tirado

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