Partnering with enthusiastic architecture students

The cornerstone of any good library service is a librarian who recognizes the need to partner with a variety of like-minded community organizations. The Niagara Falls Public Library partners with many traditional, neighboring organizations that one would expect: The Niagara Falls City School District, Heart and Soul Food Bank, Salvation Army of Niagara Falls, AARP tax help, Social Security Administration, Buffalo Niagara Literacy, NF Memorial Hospital, National NF Heritage Foundation, NF Peacekeepers just to name a few. We also partner will local businesses to display many of our photographs from our local history collection. 

As of September 2021, we hosted a group of Master’s in Architecture students from the University of Buffalo as part of their atelier relating to Brutalist architecture. A component of this atelier ( or ‘workshop’ in English, if you prefer) is to create opportunities for community service to better educate others on the merit of Brutalism or preserve existing examples of Brutalism architecture.

I am so very proud of these students and the creativity that they brought forth. Some students created postcards with the NF library’s facade. Others brought forth the Cats of Instagram. Others constructed a wooden model of the original library building. Another group is scanning Paul Rudolph’s original architectural plans of the library building for the preservation of future researchers. Another group created what has become known as the barrier sails project.

In an effort to replace the ugly and tattered yellow caution tape that blocks off half the Main Library to foot traffic, our UB Architecture students came up with a dacron orange triangle sail, in conjunction with caution signage to warn patrons of our uneven flooring and a potential tripping hazard. After writing a proposal and presenting the idea to our NF library board, above are the proto-type sails in what has been dubbed Paul Rudolph orange, affixed to our metal shelving with breakaway metal hooks and magnets.

After mastering the use of an industrial sewing machine and the creation of multiple versions of the sail pattern to induce strength, the final product was installed and presented on Friday, December 17, 2021, to the visiting media. The final design included security peek-a-boo holes to create security sight lines down each aisle.

I offer a huge thank you and gratitude to Professors Gregory Delaney and Brett Doster who lead their group of architecture students to create betterment all the while promoting appreciation and usability of Brutalist architecture. Our NF library is much better for its creative efforts.

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