The Future of the New York Public Library; Renderings by Foster + Partners

New York Public Library 1911

New York Public Library 1911

Because I grew up in a small town, I thought that every town had exactly one library. It wasn’t until I started college in Cincinnati that I realized branch libraries exist. As an example, the New York Public Library has some eighty-seven branch libraries through out the five boroughs of New York City. But the most recognizable of these seven dozen branches is the one that sits between Fifth Avenue and Bryant Park. It is the main branch of the library system, was finished in 1911 and has some 75 miles of shelving. But where are all these books? I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but even after visiting the library I’m not sure I could tell you. They weren’t exactly hiding (how do you hide 75 miles of shelving?) but were in a less glamorous part of the building underneath the photogenic, Beaux-Arts reading room. It took a year to move all of the books into the new shelving.

It’s now a hundred years after the library’s completion and when the library announced that architect Norman Foster would be giving the branch a $300 million dollar update, folks had lots of opinions. One of these folks is Alda Louise Huxtable, whose articulate and somewhat acerbic critique of the library’s plan can be read here. She argues that you can’t update a masterpiece, saying:

“This is a plan devised out of a profound ignorance of or willful disregard for not only the library’s original concept and design, but also the folly of altering its meaning and mission and compromising its historical and architectural integrity. You don’t “update” a masterpiece. “Modernization” may be the most dangerously misused word in the English language.”

New York Public Library Foster + Partners

New York Public Library Norman Foster

So what will the new library look like? Until now, we didn’t know. That’s because today, the library is releasing renderings from he office of Foster + Partners, in part because of the clamor generated by the announcement to overhaul the library. And guess what? These seventy five miles of shelving that I wasn’t sure existed are the center of the action. There, the firm will relocate a significant chunk of the library’s print holdings to make way for more generous and technologically-savvy spaces. But what’s more interesting than the pixels of these particular renderings is whether or not the images will assuage critics. Was the racket because we hadn’t seen the building? Was it image insecurity? Or is it truly just a bad idea to change the building in this way?

Alex Dent

December 19, 2012 / By

There and Back Again – A Review of ‘The Hobbit’

The Hobbit

After almost too many years of waiting, the audience finally gets what it wants. The nerd/geek fantasy first came to life to the tune of billions of dollars of revenue and endless DVD sets, each claiming to be more essential, more complete, more fulfilling than the last. 9 years after snagging 11 Oscars at the 74th Academy Awards for its grand finale, The Lord of the Rings receives the beginning of the prequel that started it all: The Hobbit, elongated and trifurcated for our viewing pleasure.

Continue reading this post…

Alec Rojas

December 18, 2012 / By

The Build Up: Episode 3

The Build Up: Episode 3

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Click Here To Download Episode 3

As we approach the end of one year and the beginning of another, podcast co-captain Jon Setzen and myself decided the final episode of 2012 would be a year in review, the best of the best. 2012 was a really great year for both of us and ’13 is looking to be equally bright.

Our third episode is about a lot of things:

• Most life changing app of the year
• Top 5 favorite albums (and our runner ups)
• Best gadget of the year that’s not the iPhone 5
• Most eye opening design experiences of 2012
• Best design trends of the year
• Best meal of the year (there were actually many)
• Screw you Instagram, we’re back on Flickr
• 3 work-related work-related goals for 2013
• Music from Heavenly Beat, The Walkmen, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, and Dirty Projectors

Bobby Solomon

December 18, 2012 / By

‘It’s a Shape Christmas’ – An Illustrated & Interactive Advent Calendar

The Shape of Christmas - Screenshot

Over the last few days I’ve really been getting into the festive spirit by visiting It’s a Shape Christmas. This special seasonal website is a digital advent calendar that features the work of 25 illustrators from all over the globe. Created by Shape Design Studio, the project is now in its second year and they’ve really brought together a great selection of talent and built a great looking website around their work.

Everyday you can unlock a new illustration from the calender, with illustrators creating Christmas themed pictures based on a number of different shapes. You can take a look below to see some examples of these including Barney Ibbotson’s hexagonal snowflake, Brandon James Scott’s circular present and Dave Raxworthy’s triangular birdhouse. They’re all great pieces!



The Shape of Christmas - Dave Raxworthy

Best of all, each illustration is also available to download as a wallpaper for either the iPhone or iPad so you can visit the site each day and get a brand new festive wallpaper. What more could you want! Go check it out here!

Philip Kennedy

December 18, 2012 / By

‘Know Til Now’, A New Song by Jim James

'Know Til Now', A New Song by Jim James

Yesterday at work my buddy Frank was playing some music when a song came on that caught my ear. I asked him what it was, he looked to his Spotify, and said “It’s Jim James.” For at least 10 seconds I was trying to process this statement. “It does sound like Jim James… but it’s so… odd,” I thought. Sure enough, Mr. James has a new solo album called Regions of Light and Sound of God which comes out on February 5 on ATO Records. The song above, Know Til Now, is the first and holy geez is it an amazing jam. It honestly reminds me of the whacked out solo albums of the late 90s/early 00s that folks like Scott Weiland put out. The track blends all sorts of elements into it like disco, jazz, blues all tied together with James’ signature falsetto. This definitely gets me excited for the upcoming album.

Bobby Solomon

December 18, 2012 / By