INSPIRING THE LOVE OF LEARNING
DESIGNER, ROCKWELL GROUP ARCHITECTURE, PLANNING AND DESIGN
REVERSING ILLITERACY 60% of New York City’s public school students in 3rd through 8th grade below grade level. The L!BRARY Initiative is a partnership between the Robin Hood Foundation and the New York City Department of Education which seeks to improve literacy and academic achievement by designing, building and staffing new elementary school libraries. I was charged with designing customized library environments for four NYC Public Schools, working with an existing library design prototype.
TELLING THEIR STORIES The challenge of working with a prototype was pushing the personalization of each design (to avoid cookie cutter solutions) by reinterpreting surfaces, graphics and furnishings to tell the unique stories of each school community. I engaged the Teachers and Writers Collaborative to work with students to generate creative writing which Pentagram Design used to create bold, graphic friezes for the libraries’ walls, allowing students to leave their indelible mark on their libraries.
THE WRITING ON THE WALL By far the most dramatic of the four libraries, we converted the attic space of PS 106, with its Manhattan skyline views, and filled it with graphic speech bubbles of children’s musings (“If a chicken has no lips, can it whistle?”) that float overhead like clouds. The mini stage celebrates the thrill of performance with a giant exclamation mark that climbs the stairs of the amphitheater. This design received a 2004 AIA Education Award honorable mention and has been featured in The New York Times, Architectural Record and The Library Book.
(Photo credit: Rockwell Group Architecture, Planning and Design)