PS 19 Public School Libraries, New York, NY, 2004
The Robin Hood Foundation / NYC Board of Education
1,300 to 2,300 square feet (PS 19, PS 46, PS 86, PS 94, PS 246)
Interior Design, Furniture/Product Design
Modular components visibly combine, engaging students’ minds and forming libraries that otherwise would not exist.
Pro bono design for the Robin Hood Foundation: prototypical libraries in five New York City public schools.
Tsao & McKown faced the challenge of having to meet two contrary programmatic demands: the need for group instruction and activities, versus the need for there to be individual, solitary paths for intellectual discovery. The resulting design aimed to preserve the wonder and astonishment foster the wonders attainable by reading in private, while also celebrating communal activities. Bookcases, in all their iconic majesty, were used to define spaces for small reading groups and for individual refuge. Larger reading areas included a stage where students might have their first experiences engaging a larger group as a leader or performer.
Economical means of construction and sustainability were considerations which influenced the choice of materials and detailing. Simple, apparently unfinished aspects of design were intentionally employed to encourage young minds to fit the pieces of the library together as they would their own building blocks.
As part of this project, Tsao & McKown designed custom furnishings including the multi-functional ‘Flip/Flop Desk/Chair,’ a one-piece molded foam reading stool, and molded acrylic ‘cloud’ lights which simply hang below school-standard fluorescent strips.