Little Italy Library by Milena Marchan

Grade: 11th

Embodying the Biennial's theme of Make New History, as well as attempting to address the lack of resources available to the Little Italy neighborhood, I wanted to create a design that reflected more than just the community’s current needs. I wanted to create a design that spoke to the larger narrative of the community, as this would allow me to not only create connections to its history in a way that’s relevant today, but also give me a chance to form my own statement about topics in the form of a design. This is why I choose immigration as a central concept for the design of my library. Little Italy village has a very rich immigration history, with many Italian immigrants flooding into the neighborhood around the 19th and 20th century. The space later diversified as time went on, but there’s still a lot to appreciate in terms of the cultural landscape Italian Immigrants previously created. The geographical shape of Italy is what inspired the shape of the left hand side of my library. Other aspects of my design inspired by Little Italy’s immigrant population would be the glass designs located in various windows throughout the library. Although a bit abstract visually, conceptually these lines are meant to represent the intersection of different cultures, and the way that the overlapping of all these stories can create something so beautiful! Especially given our current political environment, I felt it was important to have something that positively memorialized immigrant stories, not discouraged them. This library is important to the Little Italy village community not only because of the way it celebrates diversity and encourages interaction, but also more generally the access it provides. Access to the internet, access to creative materials, access to educational help through reading materials and tutors. Attention to audience was also very important to my design, as I was aware that many of the people that would later occupy my library would be students.