Good design is important to our work. It helps us provide people with a good experience with books and reading in public space. We’ve developed two types of portable reading room structures, both designed by architects Höweler + Yoon specifically for the Uni Project.

Uni_on_Kickstarter_165The first structure consists of lightweight cubes that connect magnetically and stack in a tower formation. We funded the fabrication of the first Uni reading room tower on Kickstarter in 2011. Under the supervision of Höweler + Yoon Architecture and Professor J. Meejin Yoon of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning, and supported in part by a HASS grant from MIT, a team of MIT students—James Coleman, David Costanza, and Alexander William Marshall—built the first Uni reading room which we launched on Sept. 11, 2011. To this day, we continue to use the original structure to provide reading rooms across New York City. We have also built and shipped new tower structures to other libraries and organizations across the globe. The project was featured in the U.S. Pavilion at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale.

yellow Uni

Uni on Governors Island, NYC Summer 2013.

uni CartThe second structure is a reading room cart that transports closed, like a rock stage case, and unfolds into an attractive, distinctive, 360 degree-sculptural book shelf. Two carts can interlock to create a larger form, or can be deployed separately and simultaneously. Höweler + Yoon Architecture fabricated the first prototype in June 2013, and we put it into service immediately. Like the original Uni design, the cart has an attractive, striking form, built-in shelving that is accessible from all sides, and it comes with shade and benches. The entire kit can be wheeled quickly into place by two people, and can even be secured in place overnight.

uni cart harlem Uni

Next, we’ll be working on adapting this design for a series of new carts on different learning themes. We began with READ. Next is DRAW and SOLVE (spatial reasoning and math puzzles). Coming soon.


Höweler + Yoon Architecture, LLP, with Prof. J. Meejin Yoon of MIT (Eric Höweler, Meejin Yoon, Parker Lee, Ryan Murphy, Thena Tak, James Coleman, David Costanza, Jeremy Jih, and Alexander William Marshall).

Fabrication Höweler + Yoon Architecture, LLP, with Jeremy Jih, David Costanza, Alexander William Marshall, Kelly Shaw, Sung Woo Jang, Max Wong, Joanna Rodriguez-Noyola, James Coleman, Cyrus Dochow, Parker Lee, and Thena Tak.) Bill Bancroft Furniture Beartown Inc

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