The Uni Project

The Uni is a portable, open-air reading room that will launch in New York City, Fall, 2011. (www.theuniproject.org). The reading room will bring books and learning experiences to street-level space within parks, plazas, and even vacant lots. Husband and wife Sam Davol and Leslie Davol are the team behind the project, and the Uni is based on the Storefront Library, which they created in Boston's Chinatown in 2009-2010. Sam is also the cellist for the band The Magnetic Fields. Within one week of launching a fundraising drive on Kickstarter.com, the Uni was 50% of the way to its funding goal. The drive ends August 15 (http://kck.st/q8K69t).

The Uni is a portable infrastructure based on a system of cubes, and the books inside those cubes are just the start. Like traditional libraries, the Uni will also provide a venue for readings, talks, workshops, and screenings, through partnerships with local organizations and institutions. The lightweight infrastructure can be installed in various configurations at different scales, and it can transform available space into places of community use, learning, and public engagement.

The design is by Höweler + Yoon Architects, with Prof. J. Meejin Yoon of MIT. The fabrication team is J. Meejin Yoon, David Costanza, and Alexander Marshall. Fabrication is underway at MIT.

The Uni is a project of Street Lab, Inc, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that creates programs for public space. Street Lab was founded in 2006 by Leslie and Sam Davol with a mission to contribute to the development of livable cities through public installations that offer opportunities for learning, community use, and civic engagement. Since 2006, the organization has operated in downtown Boston, culminating in the 2009-10 Storefront Library. In 2011, Street Lab turns exclusively to the Uni and will focus on New York, marking a return to the founders’ home city. (www.bostonstreetlab.org)

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I like it, but

it terrifies me. the library structure reminds me of a toothy version of Rover (from The Prisoner) and I can imagine it bounding towards me as I try to escape The Village.

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