$15 Million, 21,000-Square Foot Expansion Of Laguardia Community College’s Library Is Complete

Interior shot of the new LaGuardia Community College Library. 

Political leaders, LaGuardia Community College President Gail O. Mellow, The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY), Architect IBI Group Gruzen Samton, general contractor Stalco Construction, and Construction Manager AECOM have just completed a $15 million, 21,000-square foot expansion of the LaGuardia Community College Library. LaGuardia, a part of the City University of New York (CUNY), educates more than 50,000 New Yorkers annually through degree, certificate, and continuing education programs.

With an annual attendance of more than 650,000 people, the library is the most heavily utilized space on campus. It serves the college’s 20,000 degree-seeking and 30,000 non-credit students, and 3,000 faculty and staff. Visitors from Queens and beyond regularly access the library as well.

“This library expansion is long-overdue for our exceptionally hard-working students, who are striving to make better lives for them and their families,” said LaGuardia Community College President Gail O. Mellow. “Our student population is largely low-income, new immigrant, or otherwise disadvantaged—many face numerous challenges on their way to a college degree, from financial burdens, juggling work (often more than one job), raising children, and other responsibilities—and they deserve and need a convenient, comfortable, modern space where they can grab time to study and reflect.”

The expansion converted a section of the second floor at the college’s E-Building at 31-40 Thomson Avenue in Long Island City into an additional space for the library. The work makes the formerly one-story-plus-mezzanine library 58% larger and doubles the capacity to 732 seats by adding 312 workstations with powered Internet connections at each, media rooms, 11 new group study rooms as well as new reading rooms, a new media lab, faculty suites, archive space, and 50 new offices. The project also included reorganizing and upgrading the space on the first floor and connecting it to the new second floor with a staircase and expanded elevator service.

The project team also included mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (M/E/P) engineer Joseph R. Loring & Associates; structural engineer Ysrael A. Seinuk, P.C.; and lighting designer Whitehouse Lighting Design, LLC.

 The work included converting a section of the building’s second floor, which previously housed faculty offices and classrooms, into an additional library space above the library’s existing mezzanine.

The new floor includes the 5,750-square foot courtyard reading room; the 2,790-square foot Thomson Reading Room, a 1,570-square foot media lab, a 1,360-square foot archive room, a video editing room, a recording room, a language lab, offices, 11 group study rooms, restrooms, storage spaces, and mechanical and data rooms.

The second floor features numerous storefront-type glazed divider walls, carpet flooring, dark orange fabric-wrapped wall panels, and soffit, acoustical tile, and perforated metal floating ceilings. The space is equipped with a reference desk, computer desks, reading tables, lounge-type tables and. Continuous recessed light strips high-hat lighting fixtures illuminate the space. The atrium space above the stair features three oversized round lighting fixtures, which can be lowered down automatically for maintenance.

The new stair is structural steel with wooden treads covered in carpet. It features wooden handrails and glazed sides. The opening on the second floor is the main architectural feature, with its glass sides. The glazing allows patrons a view of the library from the second floor.

Most of the work was conducted in and around the busy, fully operating library, so great care was taken to avoid disrupting students, faculty and librarians. In addition, the construction team was not allowed to access the construction site through the building. Construction crews accessed the site through the exterior wall opening and material deliveries were performed either through the ramp or with a hoist through the second-floor opening.

A temporary wall was built on the first floor to separate the library from the work area, muffling noise and keeping any dust from the students. Smaller scaffolding in the inner courtyard protected pedestrians while the team created the oversized windows. The larger scaffolding, put in along Thomson and Van Dam Streets, also protected pedestrians but from the demolition debris being brought out of the building.

When possible, construction tasks were performed when students were away, on weekends and during spring break.

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