Shawmut has completed Brooklyn Public Library’s (BPL) newest branch at Sunset Park Library and Apartments. The historic project, the first of its kind in New York City, establishes a new development model under which the creation of 100 percent affordable housing is paired with new and expanded public library facilities.

Designed by Mitchell Giurgola and occupying the first two and a half levels of the eight-story building, the state-of-the-art Sunset Park Library spans more than 20,000 square feet, almost twice the size of its predecessor. The new library is bright and comfortable, with an open, flexible design and up-to-date technological infrastructure. Its essential components, including the HVAC system, are all brand-new.

“We're grateful for the opportunity to collaborate once again with Brooklyn Public Library to create the new Sunset Park branch,” said David Margolius, Executive Vice President of Shawmut’s New York Metro region. “At Shawmut, we take pride in building spaces that become integral chapters in the stories of our communities. As we turn over this latest branch renovation to our partners at BPL, we're inspired at how it will stand as a cornerstone for generations to come." 

The new library features the largest dedicated space for teens of any library in the borough, a recording studio, and a community program room available for scheduled community functions both during and outside of library hours. Although the previous library building had outlived its useful life, Sunset Park Library has long been one of Brooklyn’s busiest branches, with attendance and circulation that consistently rank near the top of Brooklyn Public Library’s 60 branches.

“Sunset Park has always been one of our busiest libraries, and we’re thrilled to welcome the neighborhood back to a new space built on a foundation not only of concrete, but of community input, engagement and passion,” said Linda Johnson, President and CEO, Brooklyn Public Library. “In addition to providing a large, inviting and functional library for visitors to enjoy our programs and collections, the building also provides urgently needed 100 percent affordable housing in Sunset Park — the first collaboration of its kind in the city. We are profoundly grateful to Fifth Avenue Committee for their invaluable partnership, to the State and City of New York, and to our elected officials and other key partners who helped make this project a reality.”

The building features a second-floor roof deck of approximately 2,000 square feet to provide outdoor space for the residents’ recreational needs and library programming. There is also bicycle storage, high speed internet, and Wi-Fi in common areas, and the building has an on-site superintendent. The project includes a 45-kW rooftop solar array.   

“Mitchell Giurgola is honored to have collaborated with the BPL and the many other associated stakeholders to design the new Sunset Park Branch, a space that we hope will serve the community for many decades to come. This state-of-the-art library has dedicated adult, children, and teen spaces, as well as a recording studio and a large, flexible community space available both during and after library hours. It has been a pleasure to work closely with the BPL staff to bring this important community anchor to fruition,” said Carol Loewenson, Partner, Mitchell Giurgola.

Welcoming library patrons into the space are two large-scale murals by Tatiana Arocha, featuring stunning imagined naturescapes as intricate and diverse as the neighborhood itself. In the vestibule of the library, destellos naranjas en la copa de los árboles, 2023 (glimpses of orange between the treetops) is a portrait of an urban forest, combining plants indigenous to Brooklyn with animals from faraway places. Arocha’s second artwork, Antes del amanecer, (Before Dawn), 2023 is featured on the blue wall of the main reading room. It depicts a large, magical tree with two owls.