Rendering of Red Hook Library, courtesy of LEVENBETTS
View from Dwight Street, rendering courtesy LEVENBETTS

Beginning in Fall 2020, Red Hook Library will undergo a comprehensive interior and exterior renovation that will last for approximately eighteen months. The library’s flood protections will be reinforced, outdated mechanical systems will be replaced, its interior spaces will be reconfigured and made more welcoming, and environmentally friendly landscaping and outdoor program space will be added. See the designs here (.pdf).

The renovated library will welcome natural light into Red Hook Library, with new windows in both public and staff areas.

The reconfigured interior space will feature:

  • the same amount of book shelving, rearranged to accommodate floor-to-ceiling windows;
  • a space for teens for the first time;
  • a dedicated room for children's storytimes and programs;
  • a community room accessible via a separate, garden entrance for after-hours meetings;
  • two small meeting rooms reservable by the public online; and
  • brand new furniture and upgraded technology.

The new outdoor spaces will feature:

  • public seating outside the library, removing the front gates and creating a welcoming space;
  • outdoor reading and activity areas;
  • entrance for after-hours garden events; and
  • landscaping of native plants, with a focus on evergreens to keep the gardens attractive year-round.

Frequently Asked Questions

Construction is expected to start in Fall 2020 and last until Spring 2022. Bookmobile service will be provided near the library and several neighborhood organizations have expressed interest in hosting library programs during this period. Red Hook Library will engage the community on the best ways to deliver select library services during construction.

The Red Hook Library is being designed to satisfy NYC Building Code Appendix G, which requires the building to be Dry Flood Proofed. All mechanical and electrical equipment will be placed on the library’s roof, flood resistant walls and windows will create a ‘flood wall’ of 3.5 feet around the building and the exterior will feature permeable landscaping and garden bioswale. Also included are moveable flood-proof devices to place at doors where water could potentially enter the building.

Brooklyn Public Library presented an initial proposal in 2014 to renovate Red Hook Library’s interior in partnership with an arts nonprofit. In response to concerns raised by the community, including unease about the loss of library floor space, Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) agreed to engage in further community discussions before moving forward. The library held two community engagement labs in 2015, including one focused on teens, and BPL determined to pursue a library renovation independently of the arts partner, in line with the community priorities presented at these labs.

The Library continued engagement around this project and library programs with attendance at Community Board meetings, presentation at the NYCHA Tenant Association (West) and Board of NYCHA Red Hook (East) and annual participation in NYCHA Family Day festivities, annual presentations at Red Hook Civic Association meetings, participation in Red Hook Initiative Annual Community Fairs, and with presentations to elected officials.

On October 23, 2019, architects LEVENBETTS presented designs to Community Board 6's Youth/Human Services/Education committee. Download the presentation (.pdf). 

The renovation is estimated to cost $15 million in capital funds, which were allocated by Council Member Carlos Menchaca, the New York City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio. These funds include $135,000 allocated through Council District 38’s Participatory Budget process, for a garden project and new technology.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is managing this project for Brooklyn Public Library. The selected architect is LEVENBETTS, a firm that won an Architecture in America (AIA) award for its design of the interim Brooklyn Heights Library.

Rendering of Red Hook Library's reading room, looking west
Reading room looking west, rendering courtesy LEVENBETTS