Design a Library, Build a Community
This is an Open, Two-stage, Design Competition to design, construct, and install a contemporary book shelter in underprivileged neighborhoods in Buffalo, NY. Submissions received from 6 states and 5 countries were accepted until September 1st, 2017.
Architects, designers, sculptors, carpenters, students, etc. were asked to submit their qualifications, describe their interest in the project, a conceptual design and brief narrative description of their idea. The submissions are being judged by:
- Matthew Etu, PE – BAF LFL Committee Chair and LFL Steward
- Courtney Creenan-Chorley, AIA – BAF, Board President
- Michael Anderson, AIA – AIA Buffalo/WNY, Board President
- Rishawn Sonubi – City of Buffalo, Deputy Commissioner of Buildings
- Mary Jean Jakubowski – Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, Director
- Brad Hahn – Explore Buffalo, Executive Director
“Ensuring that books are available to any child at any time of the year will be a good ﬁrst step in enhancing the reading achievement of low-income students and an absolutely necessary step in closing the reading achievement gap.”
—Anne McGill Franzen and Richard Allington, 2009
Literacy-friendly neighborhoods is a grassroots initiative started by Little Free Libraries® that aims to promote literacy, expand literary horizons, cultivate generosity, and promote general neighborliness. These libraries will facilitate an informal exchange of books in the city’s public spaces, where residents and visitors may use and contribute to these communal resources. The final locations for these libraries have not been established, but all are planned to be in the underserved neighborhoods in the City of Buffalo.
Each entry was asked to address the goals of the Literacy–friendly neighborhood in an urban setting while simultaneously addressing the basic demands of an outdoor enclosure and providing a form that breaks the mold of what has been deemed typical for a Little Free Library. Creative and innovative designs were encouraged.
- Reasonably shelter the contents of the library from exterior elements, water-tight is preferable
- Provide easy visual access to the contents of the library
- Provide a minimum of two lineal feet of shelving or space for 15-30 books
- Adequately convey the nature of the BAF to a passerby not familiar with its mission
- Must be able to accommodate a Little Free Library® charter sign (8″ wide x 1.5″ tall, white-painted pine)
- Consideration for the shared challenges of LFL stewards including easy installation, graffiti, integrating with surroundings, keeping the doors shut, making it accessible at night, serving small children and tall adults alike, and separating various kinds of books
- Unique fabrication methods
- Distinctive architectural style
- Inspires the feelings of surprise and delight
- Constructed with recycled, reclaimed, or sustainable materials
- Addresses one of more of the most common “dream” features according to LFL stewards including accommodating 50 books or more, accommodating books of unusual shapes and sizes, areas for bookmarks and flyers, bright colors inside so books in the back don’t get lost, hook for dog leashes, magnetic door catches, motion sensor lights for night, multiple shelves that can be accessed by children and adults alike, notebook for visitors to comment in, place on top to grow herbs/green roof, and a seating area
Traditional, custom-built, high quality, prefinished libraries are available for purchase (as a fundraiser) from the Little Free Library® organization within a price range of $300 to $500; unfinished or some assembly required libraries are available for as little as $165. Entrants are asked to include an estimate of the total cost of their designs with a target budget of $300. Buffalo Architecture Foundation is hoping to select and install up to 10 designs, so the more cost efficient the design can be, the more libraries we can afford to install. As additional funding becomes available this value may increase.
Each design team will receive $300 to build and install its library.
Ribbon Cutting, Exhibition, and Publication
BAF intends for each library to be a permanent installation.
BAF will publish regular updates on the competition via email, on their website, on Facebook and Twitter, and to local press. Whenever possible, participants will be referenced by name and any provided images will be shared.
Buffalo Architecture Foundation, in conjunction with competition sponsors, will invite entrants to a formal ribbon cutting ceremony at one of the installed libraries. BAF intends to promote this event with local press and will thank all parties involved in its success including all selected entrants.
A commemorative photo book including written descriptions of each library, photos of the design and construction process, along with the installed finished product will be made available for sale during and following the event. Entrants may pre-order a book at a reduced price with entry submission.
Competition Opens: June 5, 2017
Submissions Due: September 1, 2017
Winners Notified: October 1, 2017
Design Duration (3 months): October 2017 thru December 2018
Construction Duration (4 months): January 2017 thru April 2018
Installation: Any time after completion but no later than May 1, 2018
Ribbon Cutting: Late May/early June 2018
For full contest rules, more information, eligibility and submission requirements, and selection criteria, please download a copy of the Competition Brief.
Frequently Asked Questions
All participants are encouraged to thoroughly read the competition brief for answers, but if you still have any questions regarding the Little Free Library® Design Competition, please contact the Program Chair, Matt Etu at firstname.lastname@example.org. The questions and answers will be posted here as needed.
- Page 8 of the Competition Brief indicates the submission deadline is Sept 1. Page 9 of the Competition Brief indicates the submission deadline is Sept 8. Which is correct?
SEPTEMBER 1st IS CORRECT.
Little Free Library® is a registered trademark of Little Free Library LTD, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.