Gilbane Building Company Joins Brooklyn Public Library to Celebrate Completion of Phase One of Newly Remodeled Central Library

May 6, 2021 2:30 PM EDT

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BROOKLYN, N.Y. (PRWEB) May 06, 2021

Gilbane Building Company today joined the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) to celebrate the completion of the first phase of its Central Library revitalization both restoring a majestic landmark and creating new, inspiring and innovative spaces to serve the next generation of library patrons.

"Gilbane is deeply proud to have contributed to the revitalization of this landmark community asset," said Grant W. Gagnier, Jr., Senior Vice President & New York City Business Unit Leader. "The first phase of the Central Library restoration had strong diverse business participation, exceeding the project's goals for minority and women-owned businesses. We're grateful to have partnered with Toshiko Mori in delivering this vital and improved educational resource to the public."

In addition to its work with BPL, Gilbane is currently managing renovation of five Carnegie Libraries in New York City with the NYC Economic Development Corporation and the New York Public Library. These libraries include: 125th Street, Fort Washington, Hunts Point, Melrose, and Port Richmond. Gilbane is also managing the construction of the new Charleston Public Library on Staten Island.

Central Library Phase One Project
Gilbane Building Company partnered with BPL and renowned architect, Toshiko Mori, to both restore the Library to its original grandeur and transform Central Library into a more flexible modern building for today. The design both returns space--formerly used for administrative needs--back to the public and anticipates how people might use the Library in the future.
With more than 1.3 million visits per year, Central Library is among the busiest buildings in the borough. Phase one of the multi-phase redevelopment returned space formerly used for administrative needs back to the public, and created four new space for the public to enjoy:

The new Civic Commons is an easily accessible, dedicated hub for organizations and services that facilitate participation in public life, featuring a new dedicated entrance on Flatbush Avenue. Home to Central Library's Passport Services Center, IDNYC office, a rotating community partner office, and a computer lab, waiting patrons will find a common reception area offering plentiful seating and free WiFi. In the future, the space will host civic events such as local committee meetings, informational workshops and voter registration drives through partnerships with Brooklyn Voters Alliance, Immigrant Justice Corps, the NYC Department of Health, and others. Funding for the Civic Commons was provided by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

The Major Owens Welcome Center will provide a first point of access for Brooklynites as they enter the branch through the library's famous gilded entryway, framed by 15 bronze sculptures of famous characters and authors from American literature. The welcome center will process check-outs and returns, and direct patrons to services throughout the branch, just as the library did when the building first opened 80 years ago. Funding for the Major Owens Welcome Center was provided by the New York State Assembly.

Major Owens, who represented New York's 11th and then 12th Congressional districts, worked as a librarian at Brooklyn Public Library in the 1950's and 1960's. In his 12 terms representing Brooklyn, he was known as the "librarian in Congress" and dedicated his career to providing access to education.

Across from the Major Owens Welcome Center, patrons can view an exhibit on the Congressman's life, including never before seen photographs of the Congressman, handwritten and typed speeches, publications, campaign flyers, and more.

In the 'New & Noteworthy' a book gallery, just off the grand lobby, patrons can find the latest fiction and nonfiction titles, from best sellers to lesser-known books thoughtfully curated by librarians. At 1,190 square feet, the New & Noteworthy can hold approximately 2,000 books along with space to read amid natural light from the large windows overlooking Grand Army Plaza. Overhead, a striking custom-designed metal ceiling grid with specialty lighting invites curious readers to spend time exploring the collections in the room. This new gallery, for the first time in many decades, brings books to the front of the library, reflecting BPL's mission to provide free access to all the world's wisdom.

Funding for New & Noteworthy was provided by Susan and David Marcinek. Susan Marcinek who serves as the chair of the Board of Trustees for BPL, is also generously funding BPL's new Pathway to Leadership program, providing financial support for library staff as they pursue part-time MLS degrees alongside their work at the library. The program will also provide mentorship, community, and the opportunity for successful graduates to assume Librarian positions at BPL.

A new and greatly enlarged Business and Career Center, is a specially-reserved space for job seekers and small business owners--a particularly important addition for the post-COVID recovery. Drawing on a long tradition of helping the community in times of economic trouble from World War I to 9/11 to Hurricane Sandy, BPL offers an array of services and programs for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and job seekers. Trained business librarians are on hand to help with everything from resume review to navigation of local, state and federal government aid programs.

The space includes custom-designed wood counter seating, four private meeting rooms, seven conversation "nooks", a co-working area with 34 desktop computers, and two large seminar rooms, including one with built in/automated presentation equipment. More importantly, the Business and Career Library connects, via a new glass-enclosed staircase, to the popular Shelby White and Leon Levy Info Commons on the first floor. Opened in 2013, it is among the most popular spots in the library, with a recording studio, seven reservable meeting rooms, computers, open space for students, gig workers and anyone who needs a quiet space to work, with plenty of outlets for all. Funding for the Business and Career Center was provided by Empire State Development.

Phase one of the revitalization also restored the library's lobby to its original grandeur, including restoration and refurbishment of the historic oak wood paneling, new poured terrazzo flooring, and installation of new lighting.

Additional improvements including refinishing the wood paneling and new terrazzo tile on the second floor, upgrading of all six elevators, replacing the fire alarm system, upgrading and installing HVAC units for the new spaces and new public restrooms, including two all gender bathrooms. In addition, the plaza was outfitted with new limestone and lighting.

The Central Library renovation project has been supported with funding from Mayor Bill de Blasio, Borough President Eric Adams, the New York State Assembly, The New York State Regional Economic Development Council, New York City Council Brooklyn Delegation and Susan and David Marcinek. Additional funding for the Central Library renovation project provided by Jay L. and Robin K. Lewis, Miriam Katowitz, Brian O'Neil and The Estate of Doris M. Ohlsen.

Re-envisioning the way that residents and visitors experience the green space in Central Brooklyn: library leadership hopes to one day open the library to the surrounding community by creating a rooftop garden for community gardens and environmental education, and activities like Children's Story Hour -- and connect the library to Mount Prospect Park, creating a single green campus for Central Brooklyn.

The Library has engaged thousands of community members and library users in planning for the first phase. BPL will continue to seek public input on the long-term plans for the building.

About Gilbane Building Company
Gilbane Building Company provides a full slate of construction and facilities-related services from pre-construction planning and integrated consulting capabilities to comprehensive construction management, close-out and facility management services for clients across various markets. A family business founded in 1870, Gilbane has active participation from the 4th, 5th and 6th generations of the Gilbane family.
Since 1949, Gilbane has delivered construction services in New York State for clients across multiple market sectors, including commercial office, multi-unit and high rise residential, cultural, education, healthcare, public sector, science and technology, and mission critical.

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About Brooklyn Public Library
Brooklyn Public Library is one of the nation's largest library systems and among New York City's most democratic institutions. As a leader in developing modern 21st century libraries, we provide resources to support personal advancement, foster civic literacy, and strengthen the fabric of community among the more than 2.7 million individuals who call Brooklyn home. We provide nearly 60,000 free programs a year with writers, thinkers, artists, and educators--from around the corner and around the world. And we give patrons millions of opportunities to enjoy one of life's greatest satisfactions: the joy of a good book.

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