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East Flatbush Public Library


Brooklyn, New York, United States

June 2023


David Leven (Architect / Principal), Stella Betts (Architect / Principal)


Plus Group Consulting Engineers (MEP/FP/LEED), Silman (Structural Engineer), Lumen Architects (Lighting Designer), Lally Acoustical Consultants (Acoustics)


Brooklyn Public Library with NYC Department of Design and Construction


Naho Kubota


The East Flatbush Public Library is a public building in NYC. This requires the engagement, support, meetings and approval of multiple stakeholders including the following: Brooklyn Public Library, NYC Department of Design and Construction, Community Board, NYC Public Design Commission, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs.

The project contributes to the local surrounding community by providing a free public space for anyone who wants to check out a book, read, work and/or participate in the many public programs that the library provides. The library offers extensive children’s programming and after school activities as well as educational support.

The East Flatbush Public Library is a certified LEED Silver building. Beyond the requirements to achieve LEED certification, the project design utilizes the use of natural light through six north facing skylights that not only reduce the use of electric light through daylight sensors, but also provides the library visitors with access to light and views of the sky throughout the day. In addition, 100% of the new roof membrane has a solar reflectance index meeting LEED Silver credit.

Public Libraries in NYC are designated cooling centers where the community can go during extreme heat days. As a LEED certified building, energy efficient mechanical equipment was used coupled with additional insulation and thermally insulated glass providing for better cooling capacity with less energy thereby benefitting both the community as well as the planet.


The site of the Library is 9612 Church Avenue in the East Flatbush Neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.

The East Flatbush neighborhood is a predominantly African American and West Indian working class neighborhood roughly in the center of Brooklyn. The neighborhood in its central location is bordered directly by Brownsville, Canarsie, Flatlands, Flatbush, Prospect Park and Prospect Park South, and Crown Heights. East Flatbush is characterized by low residential development with a few housing towers and three significant hospitals: Kings County Hospital, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, and Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center.

East Flatbush contains the Holy Cross Cemetery and several high schools. Access to public transportation is by bus and then subway since the subway, the 2, 3 and 4, 5 lines are more than a mile from the neighborhood’s center.

The grid of East Flatbush is primarily North-South except for the portion of the neighborhood where the East Flatbush Library sits that is shifted toward the Northwest at the pivot point and conjunction of Linden Boulevard, Remsen Avenue and Kings Highway. The neighborhood has few parks. Much of the housing is detached or semi-detached and has back yards. The community has strong traditions of music and a vibrant West Indian community whose restaurants and stores can be found throughout the neighborhood, including the stretch of Church Avenue that runs past the library branch.


The East Flatbush Public Library scope includes a full renovation of the entire exterior façade and roof as well as the interior.

The original 1988 library building had an unwelcoming facade that was closed off from visual access to the street and when inside, there was no natural light.

The project began with a series of listening sessions with the librarians and meetings with the local community of East Flatbush to understand the specific needs of this neighborhood. The new and improved library required more meeting spaces for adults, teens and families and well as designated spaces for children’s and toddler reading programs.

The design approach for the renovated library was three-fold. First, to create a more open and inviting façade that would make a direct connection to the street / community and allow passersby to see into the reading room. Second, to bring in as much natural light as possible. As a single-story library with low rise neighboring buildings, the existing roof was transformed by cutting six large north-facing skylights that provide natural light and views of the sky throughout the central reading room. Third, the plan is organized with all support program (both public meeting rooms and staff and librarian offices) orbiting around the central naturally-lit reading room. All rooms have either direct or shared light from this central space providing for an equity of light throughout the library where all rooms - like people - are created equal and having a right to light and views.

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