Where we’re headed in 2015:
Starting January 2015: Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of of Art and Storytelling (Harlem).The original Uni reading room tower launched on Kickstarter in 2011, and it still serves New York City today. Coming off of a summer on Governors Island and a residency in the Brooklyn Childern’s Museum, our next stop is the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of of Art and Storytelling. While the new Harlem-based museum prepares to launch in the months ahead, the Uni will first take up residency in the Sugar Hill Museum Preschool, serving kids there. Stay tuned!
We’re planning our 2015 schedule now! Contact us to bring the Uni to your neighborhood.
Where we’ve been in 2014:
October 2014 – January 2015:
Brooklyn Children’s Museum (Brooklyn).
The Uni Project teamed up with Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) to create a science reading station inside the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. The installation was part of an exhibit called “More Than Meets the “I” exploring the new frontiers of biology, health, robotics & technology. Visit the museum and see our original Uni Tower (built in 2011) filled with books curated by BPL staff. This special tower spent the summer on Governors Island in a similar collaboration with BPL, where we provided the infrastructure and they chose the books.
November 23, 2014: Parkside Plaza, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens/North Flatbush (Brooklyn).
The Uni landed on the corner of Ocean Avenue and Parkside Avenue in Brooklyn to be part of an event organized by local residents to help envision the possibilities of a new DOT pedestrian plaza coming to this stretch of sidewalk in front of the Parkside Q train station. Our participation was made possible by funds granted by the Charles H. Revson Foundation through the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership.
November 19, 2014: Washington Square Park (Manhattan).
The Uni Project teamed up with some wonderful friends of ours, Daniel Handler, Neil Gaiman, and the folks at National Book Foundation, to create our coldest reading room yet! In fact, it was simply too cold to create the reading room we all envisioned for Washington Square Park: a browsable selection of National Book Award finalists. Instead, it was decided (wisely) that Daniel and Neil would have a friendly competition to see who could give away those same books to the public…see what happened.
October 31, 2014: Zion Plaza, Brownsville (Brooklyn).
On Halloween, the Uni returned to Brownsville, Brooklyn to join a Halloween Festival organized by Pitkin Avenue BID. We set up on Zion Plaza at Pitkin and East New York Ave, where kids in costume and families gathered after a parade. Our participation was made possible in part by Penguin Random House and funds granted by the Charles H. Revson Foundation through the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership.
Weekdays, July – August: NYC Play Streets, citywide.
Last year, the Uni Project served ten Play Streets with support from Transportation Alternatives. This year we served nearly 40! During July and August, the Uni provided a reading room for kids at NYC play streets organized by Harvest Home, an organization providing healthy food at farmers’ markets to low income communities. Funding for the Uni at play streets was generously provided by the Shippy Foundation and Target.
Jul 15, 22, 29, Aug 5, 12, 19, 26: Harvest Home’s West Harlem Play Street (Manhattan). W 136th St.
Jul 16, 23, 30, Aug 6, 13, 20, 27: Harvest Home’s Forest Avenue Play Street (South Bronx). 156th & Westchester Ave.
Jul 10, 17, 24, 31, Aug 4, 11, 14, 21, 28: Harvest Home’s East Harlem Play Street (Manhattan). E 104th St at 3rd Ave.
Jul 11, 18, 25, Aug 1, 8, 15: Harvest Home’s Rivera Avenue Play Street, Concourse (Bronx). McClellan St at Rivera Ave.
July 29-Aug 15: Jennings St Play Street at Prospect Ave, Morrisania (Bronx).
Aug 8: Irving Place Play Street at Fulton St (Brooklyn).
Weekends, June – August: Governors Island, New York Harbor.
For the second year in a row, the Uni Project partnered with the Brooklyn Public Library, the Queens Library, and the New York Public Library to offer an open-air reading room on Governors Island. Known as Library Lawn, this library offered grass, shade, and stunning views of New York Harbor. The Uni Project provided the reading room infrastructure, while the three libraries provided staff and books. Visitors borrowed books for use on the island, registered for library cards, signed up for summer reading, and explored what’s happening in each of the three New York City public library systems. The BPL also hosted a series of Saturday programs that included storytelling, performances, and music workshops.
Fridays on Fulton St in Brooklyn
Apr 25th: Putnam Triangle, Clinton Hill
May 16th: Fowler Square, Fort Greene
Jun 13th: Putnam Triangle, Clinton Hill
Jul 11th: Fowler Square, Fort Greene
Aug 8th: Putnam Triangle, Clinton Hill
Sep 5th: Fowler Square, Fort Greene
All summer, the Uni reading room visited two pedestrian plazas along Fulton Street in Brooklyn to be part of FAB Friday events, sponsored by the Fulton Area Business Alliance. Our participation was made possible in part by a grant from Tribeca Pediatrics’ We Care for Your Kids Foundation.
Sundays in Brooklyn Bridge Park (June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; July 6, 13, 20, 27; August 3)
The Uni enjoyed a summer-long residency in Brooklyn Bridge Park in 2014. Every Sunday, we offered a staffed outdoor reading room on Pier 6 as part of the park’s Pier Kids events. The residency was made possible by a new reading room kit funded by long-time Uni Project supporters, Leaves of Grass Fund.
Aug 10, 2014: Heritage Health Center, Harlem (Manhattan).
Reach out and Read is a nonprofit that partners with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together. To help Reach out and Read kick-off their annual Early Literacy Awareness Week, the Uni transformed an empty plaza in front of Heritage Health Care at 145th and Amsterdam into a gathering place for reading. We were excited to be able to partner with this great organization and help take them outdoors in the neighborhood.
Aug 7, 2014: Ozone Park Plaza, Ozone Park (Queens).
See photos of the Uni reading room in the evening! The Uni returned to the new Ozone Park pedestrian plaza at the intersection of Liberty Ave and 101st Avenue to be part of a series of Family Nights organized by the Bangladeshi American Community Development and Youth Services Corporation (BACDYS). Our partner for this event was the Ozone Park branch of the Queens Library. Our participation was made possible by funds granted by the Charles H. Revson Foundation through the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership.
Aug 2, 2104: Summer Streets, Foley Square, (Manhattan).
For the first time, the Uni joined Summer Streets, NYC DOT’s annual car-free celebration when nearly seven miles of NYC’s streets are opened for people to play, run, walk and bike. The Uni helped create a place to gather around books at a “rest stop” on the route at Foley Square, at the intersection of Duane and Centre Streets. See the route here.
Jun 7, Jun 28, Jul 26, 2014: Corona Plaza
The Uni returned three times to Corona Plaza (June 7, June 28, July 26), a location we’re honored to have been many times before, to be part of a regular series of plaza activities benefitting the local community organized by the Queens Museum. These public reading rooms were made possible in part by funds granted by the Charles H. Revson Foundation through the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership and Penguin Random House.
Jul 26, 2014: Bliss Plaza, Sunnyside (Queens) 46th St and Queens Boulevard.
Jun 19, 2014: Special Event—Launch of Boston Uni Reading Room with Mayor Marty Walsh.
On Saturday, July 19, we were honored to launch a Uni portable reading room for Boston with help from Mayor Martin J. Walsh on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.
The Uni was the first winner of the Mayor’s 2014 Public Space Invitational to launch, and we were able to do so thanks to sponsor Robert Half, Howeler + Yoon Architecture, and partners Boston Public Library and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Special thanks to new Uni volunteers from Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences, and to all of the friends and supporters who came out.
Jun 21, 2014: Bronx Summer Fest and DJ Herc Block Party, Louis Niñé Blvd, Bronx, with WHEDco.
On a summer evening in the Bronx, the Uni Project made a place for books and learning at a community hip hop concert and dance party.
The concert honored Bronx living legend/hip hop founding father, DJ Kool Herc, and later on in the evening Kool Herc himself took over the turntables and created a Jamaican Jam dance party. The event was sponsored by the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation and presented by The Bronx Music Heritage Center as part of Make Music NY. The Uni has been on this block, back in 2013.
Our participation was made possible in part by support from Penguin Random House.
Jun 15, Jun 22, Jun 27, 2014: Zion Triangle/Pitkin Ave, Brownsville, Brooklyn
The Uni returned three times to Brownsville, Brooklyn to create a open-air reading room for kids and families in partnership with Pitkin Avenue BID. Take a look back at photos from June and 2013 or see the latest from 2014.
This event was part of Summer Plazas and our participation was made possible in part by funds granted by the Charles H. Revson Foundation through the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership and Penguin Random House. In partnership with Brooklyn Public Library.
Jun 14, 2014: Nostrand Playground, Flatbush (Brooklyn).
The Uni reading room set up in Nostrand Playground to offer a place to gather around books and learning in partnership with CAMBA, a nonprofit in Brooklyn, and CAMBA’s nearby Beacon Community Center at PS 269. This event was also made possible by support from Penguin Random House.
May 31, 2014: Hunts Point Book Bash, with Hunts Point Alliance for Children. South Bronx (Bronx).
The Uni joined the first-ever Hunts Point Book Bash, organized by the Hunts Point Alliance for Children. HPAC is a collaboration of local schools and non-profit organizations working to support the children and families of the Hunts Point neighborhood. Hunts Point youth there are underperforming across all grades in reading and writing and most have limited access to books outside of their schools. Even the Hunts Point Library is located outside of their zip code. The goal of the celebration was to offer every student in Hunts Point exciting and fun educational activities, equip them with good reading materials and have them leave with a deepened love for reading. Our participation was made possible in part by a grant from Penguin Random House.
May 28: Tompkins Square Park, East Village.
May 29: Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village.
May 30: Tompkins Square Park, East Village.
On three dates this spring, we worked with middle school-aged boys from George Jackson Academy and The Boys Club of New York to transform two prominent locations in the Village (Manhattan) into places to gather around books and learning. These open-air reading rooms were made possible by a grant from the Project for the Advancement of Our Common Humanity (PACH) at NYU. The boys read aloud their own poems and short essays about family for the public.
May 10-11, 2014: Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, Roosevelt Island (East River, NYC).
We were honored to bring the Uni reading room to the stunning FDR Four Freedoms Park on Mother’s Day weekend, to give park visitors a reading room experience. The park is a memorial to President Roosevelt, designed by the architect Louis I. Kahn, celebrating Roosevelt’s famous January 6, 1941 State of the Union speech which envisioned a world founded upon what FDR recognized to be four, human freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. Our host for the weekend was the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy.
May 5-9, 2014: Uni + Tribeca Pediatrics, Lower East Side (Manhattan), sponsored by Tribeca Pediatrics.
The Uni reading room took up residency all week long on a wide stretch of sidewalk near Tribeca Pediatrics’ Lower East Side office at 409 Grand Street. Our host was the 50+ year-old Seward Park Coop, and our sponsor for this first-ever week-long deployment was Tribeca Pediatrics, a practice serving 17 neighborhoods around the city with family-friendly storefront locations. A new foundation set up by Tribeca Pediatrics called the We Care For Your Kids Foundation is also sponsoring several other Uni deployments this coming season in Ft. Greene and Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Appropriately, dates for this unplugged experience coincided with national screen-free week.
May 4, 2014: Jane’s Birthday Party, Lower East Side (Manhattan) with Municipal Art Society.
The Uni reading room joined Jane’s Birthday Party, the culminating celebration of Jane’s Walk weekend at Hester Street Fair, organized by the Municipal Art Society. We enjoy food, drink, music, and more with walk leaders and participants, and toasted the legacy of Jane Jacobs on what would have been her 98th birthday.
May 3, 2014: Rockefeller Park, Battery Park City (Manhattan).
To help celebrate the accomplishments of NYC middle-schoolers in the National Book Foundation’s after-school program called BookUp, the Uni reading room set up in Rockefeller Park where the kids had a picnic and shared readings and conversation with poet Willie Perdomo. Besides the BookUp program, the NationalBook Foundation also awards the annual Innovations in Reading Prize, of which the Uni was a winner in 2013
Where we went in 2013:
Nov 26, 2013: Corona Plaza, Corona, Queens, with Neighborhood Plaza Partnership.
The Uni was on hand for a special ceremony at Corona Plaza: NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and NYC Council Member Julissa Ferreras announced an $800,000 gift from Chase to maintain pedestrian plazas in under-resourced neighborhoods. This was our tenth reading room deployment to Corona Plaza—our 59th overall—and a great way to round out 2013. Read more.
Nov 21+22, 2013: Talking Transition Tent, Lower Manhattan.
This week, the Uni Project brought our reading room cart to the Talking Transitions tent in Lower Manhattan, where New Yorkers convened to discuss the Mayoral transition and the future of the city. This historic public forum was initiated by the Open Society Foundation and funded by a coalition of leading foundations. Although not organized by the DeBlasio campaign, the Mayor-Elect visited the tent and paid tribute to this remarkable effort to inject campaign-level energy into transition issues. This vibrant and engaging civic space (with beer!) allowed people to gather, share, listen, and learn. Following, the space was returned to being a vacant lot, but the city will be permanently changed. In a small way, that’s exactly what we aim to do with a pop-up reading room. Read more.
Nov 20, 2013: 64th National Book Awards Dinner and Ceremony, special appearance.
Nov 3, 2013: 90th St Plaza, Elmhurst, Queens with 82nd St Partnership BID.
The Uni created an open-air reading room to support the community as it creates a temporary plaza at 90th St and Roosevelt Ave. 82nd St Partnership held a visioning session on the plaza as well. The Uni can be a catalyst for inspiring readers, and it can also be a powerful tool for improving public space. We want the Uni to help make residents of 90th St feel like their public space is safe, inviting, and world-class. And if that space begins to reflect shared values of education and learning, then things will really get interesting for New York. Read more.
Nov 2, 2013: Corona Plaza with Queens Museum.
The Uni returned to Corona for the tenth time with our partner Queens Museum. For the first time, the Uni served two neighborhoods simultaneously. We could not have done it without veteran librarians, Stephanie Yee and Emily Jacobson—thanks! Read more.
Nov 2, 2013: Liberty Ave Plaza with Bangladeshi American Community Development & Youth Service.
The Uni made a special appearance at the ribbon-cutting to celebrate the opening of a new pedestrianized plaza at the intersection of Liberty Ave and 101st Ave in Ozone Park. The new plaza will draw the community together. As Leslie said in her remarks, plazas are more than physical spaces, they are symbolic centers. They are places where residents can express shared values, like a love of reading and education. Read more.
Oct 27, 2013: North Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
The Uni brought a reading room to Flatbush Ave in partnership with North Flatbush BID, a nonprofit serving Prospect Heights and Park Slope for the past 27 years. We set up at the triangle at Flatbush and 6th Ave as part of a Fall Festival. Advocates are hoping this space will be pedestrianized someday. For an afternoon, the Uni helped residents imagine the possibilities. Read more.
Oct 26, 2013: Pitkin Plaza, Brownsville, Brooklyn, with the Pitkin Avenue Business Improvement District.
The Uni returned to Brownsville, Brooklyn, to create a open-air reading room for hundreds of kids and families. Thank you to our partner, Pitkin Avenue BID, and some terrific local volunteers who helped with the installation. Read more.
Sep 27, 2013: Putnam Triangle, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.
The Uni returned to Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, in support of the Fulton Area Business Alliance’s effort to nurture newly-pedestrianized plazas. Our location will be Putnam Triangle Plaza, and folks donated used books at the Uni to support the Brooklyn Public Library. Read more.
Sep 15, 2013: Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn, NY
The Uni appeared at Summer Space, Montague Street’s annual Weekend Walk event hosted by Montague St BID. Andrew Collins, science educator and frequent Uni contributor stopped by to help explore insects under the Uni microscope. Jon Manbeck, former Brooklyn Borough Historian, came by and donated one of his books to the Uni collection. Read more.
Sep 14, 2013: Corona Plaza with Queens Museum
The Uni returned to Corona for an eighth time. Partner: Queens Museum of Art. In Corona, the Uni Project is evaluating how a steady, persistent approach to programming the plaza with books is received. The short answer: Corona tops nearly every metric we record, including the number of patrons per hour, number of children, stay times, and number of families reading together. Corona loves reading and reading together. Photos.
Aug 21, 2013: Dunton Community Garden Play Street, Queens.
The Uni returned to the Dunton Community Garden Play Street, at Shore Avenue in Jamaica, Queens. Residents have developed this play street adjacent to a thriving community garden, and kids are provided an outstanding, nutritious lunch. Our partner was Transportation Alternatives. Read more.
Aug 20, 2013: West 137th St Play Street, West Harlem.
The Uni returned to this West Harlem playstreet, which is one of several run by the nonprofit organization Harvest Home, which also runs weekly farmers’ markets. Our partner was Transportation Alternatives. Read more.
Aug 16, 2013: Kingsbridge Heights Bronx, NY
The Play Street run by the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center is perched on a hill, in the heart of the neighborhood, in front of the familiar red doors of the community center. KHCC has woven together a mix—a Grow NYC Youth market, exercise, dance, yoga, lunch—to create a safe, healthy, positive place to gather. Today, we added reading. Our partner was Transportation Alternatives. Read more.
Aug 15, 2013: East 104th St Play Street in Harlem.
The Uni returned to this this East Harlem playstreet, which is one of several run by the nonprofit organization Harvest Home, which also runs weekly farmers’ markets. Our partner was Transportation Alternatives. Read more.
Aug 14, 2013: Lyman Place Play Street, Morrisania, Bronx.
The Uni returned for a second time to this long-running play street. Our partner was Transportation Alternatives. Read more.
Jul 25, 2013: Harvest Home’s East 104th St Play Street in East Harlem, Manhattan.
The Uni went to this East Harlem playstreet, which is one of several run by the nonprofit organization Harvest Home, which also runs weekly farmers’ markets. Our partners also included Transportation Alternatives, La Casa Azul Bookstore, and NYPL. Read more.
Jul 24, 2013: Lyman Place Play Street, Morrisania, Bronx.
For more than 30 years, Ms. Hetty Fox and her New York Kids Foundation have made sure there is a safe place for children to play in the Morrisania neighborhood of the Bronx. (See New York Times article.) We’re honored to have been invited to participate in this play street. The Uni helped to round out the program and mark the first time that books and learning are part of the mix! Our partner was Transportation Alternatives. Read more.
Jul 23, 2013: Harvest Home’s West 137th St Play Street, West Harlem, Manhattan.
The Uni went to this West Harlem playstreet, which is one of several run by the nonprofit organization Harvest Home, which also runs weekly farmers’ markets. Thanks to Amelia Carver and Emily Jacobson for staffing the Uni at this location. We used this deployment to continue road testing our new design: a Uni Cart that transports like a rock stage case and unfolds into a 360 degree, sculptural book shelf. Read more.
Jul 17, 2013: Dunton Community Garden Play Street, Jamaica, Queens.
The Uni went to Jamaica, Queens, to create an open-air reading room at a new play street hosted by Dunton Block and Civic Association. (The garden is part of the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust.) Jamaica and nine other Uni deployments are funded in part by Transportation Alternatives as we collaborate to support emerging play streets across the city. The Uni Project also launched a new prototype that will be at the heart of our strategy going forward: a Uni Cart that transports like a rock stage case and unfolds into a sculptural book shelf. Read more.
July 13: Corona Plaza, Corona, Queens with Queens Museum of Art.
The Uni returned to Corona Plaza, Queens, for the seventh time, to continue to give books and learning a presence in this important emerging community space. Take a look back at Corona deployments in May 2013, and summer 2012. Or read more about this most recent outing.
July 12, 2013: Fowler Square, Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
The Uni landed at Fowler Square Plaza to support a recently pedestrianized plaza and help support “FAB Fridays,” a series of events organized by the Fulton Area Business Alliance. Thanks to Phillip Kellogg and all the FAB staff, Uni volunteer Will Brockett, and Uni installer Peter Zweifel. The effort to beat the rain was appreciated by everyone on the plaza. Read more.
June – August 2013: East New York Farms Market and Playstreet
This summer, we tried something new: we left a Uni in someone else’s hands. For nearly two months, our new Uni Cart was a regular presence at a weekly Farmers’ Market and Play Street run by East New York Farms/United Community Centers. (Jun 29, Jul 6, Jul 13, Jul 20, Jul 27, Aug 3, Aug 10.) East NY was one of our first locations in 2012, and this year the Uni installation was deployed and staffed by the capable folks at East NY Farms. Funded in part by The Laura B. Vogler Foundation, this experiment has allowed us to explore the future of the Uni Project, which may include more collaborations like this. Read more.
June 23, 2013: Pitkin Avenue, Brownsville, Brooklyn, hosted by the Pitkin Avenue Business Improvement District.
On Sunday, June 23, the Uni was part of another DOT Weekend Walk, this time on Pitkin Avenue in Brownsville, Brooklyn, at an event called Summer Plazas organized by the Pitkin Avenue Business Improvement District. This was a classic neighborhood block party, complete with BBQ and an open sprinkler. Thanks to Toni Diaz and Dan Murphy for inviting us. Thanks to Uni volunteers William Brockett, Eleanor Davol, and Malcolm Davol, and Uni installer Peter Zweifel.
June 22, 2013: Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights, Queens.
On Saturday, Jun 22, the Uni went to Jackson Heights, Queens, to make a place for books and learning at Diversity Plaza and be part of the Jackson Heights Arts Festival organized by the arts collective Hibridos Collective in collaboration with Sukhi, a group of business owners serving as stewards of the pedestrian plaza. Diversity Plaza has faced challenges since opening in Sep 2011, but recently made history as the first known plaza to host an open-air community board meeting. At our invitation, Queens Borough Poet Laureate, Paolo Javier, joined us and read some of his poems on the festival stage! Thanks to Susan Straub for making the connection. We were glad to meet Paolo, and are planning to collaborate in Queens in the future.
June 15, 2013: Corona Plaza, Corona, Queens, with Queens Museum of Art.
The Uni returned to Corona Plaza, Queens, for the sixth time, to continue to give books and learning a presence in this important emerging community space. See photos or take a look back at Corona deployments in May 2013, and summer 2012.
June 8, 2013: Louis Niñé Boulevard at Southern Boulevard, Bronx, with Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation.
On Saturday, June 8, the Uni joined Bronx Summer Fest on the Boulevard, a festival that closed down a section of Louis Niñé Blvd between Southern Blvd and Intervale Ave in the Bronx. The event was co-sponsored by the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation and the Southern Boulevard Merchant Association. The Bronx Music Heritage Center was also a partner.
June 6, 2013: Outside the Boys and Girls High School, 1700 Fulton St @ Schenectady Av, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
The Uni provided a place to sit, read, and learn at the Seventh Annual “Discover Your Neighborhood Resource and Safety Expo” organized by the Bedford-Stuyvesant Youth, Education and Safety Task Force. Hundreds of residents attended this year, and there was a home-grown food court, a health pavilion, and farmers’ market. The event was co-sponsored by a number of different organizations in Community Board 3, including the Bridge St Development Corporation.
June 2, 2013: Mott Street below Canal, Chinatown, Manhattan, hosted by the Chinatown Partnership.
The Uni visited NYC Chinatown this weekend, as part of an event sponsored by the Chinatown Partnership that turned Mott Street in this dense, historic neighborhood into a pedestrian zone below Canal street. Our pop-up community work began as residents of Boston’s Chinatown, so this was a return of sorts, and we ran into good friends from both Chinatown communities, Boston and New York. Read more.
June 1, 2013: Penn South Playground, between W25th and W26th St near 8th Avenue, 10am-2pm.
The Uni went to a playground adjacent to the Penn South Cooperative houses. This was the second of two deployements planned in partnership with students at the nearby Avenues: The World School, and it again involved the participation of many other Chelsea organizations and institutions. Penn South Flea Market ran the same day all along W26th St.
May 30, 2013: 1117 Eastern Parkway near corner of Utica Avenue, Crown Heights, Brooklyn
The Uni went to the busy crossroads in front of Banco Popular in Crown Heights to add books and learning to the landscape. Our partners in this location were Banco Popular and the nearby St. John’s Place Family Center, a family residence with day care, infant care, and other services developed in 1990 by the Settlement Housing Fund as an alternative to welfare hotels. St. John’s place visited the Uni with kids from their program, and also played host to kids from nearby PS 191. Read more and see photos here.
May 29, 2013: Clement Clarke Moore Park, Chelsea, Manhattan
The Uni added books and learning to this historic, well-loved park in the heart of West Chelsea. This deployment of the Uni was planned in partnership with students at the nearby Avenues: The World School, and it involved the participation of many other Chelsea organizations and institutions, including nearby PS 11, the Guardian Angel School, Hudson Guild, and the High Line. Read more and see photos here.
May 11, 2013: Corona Plaza, Queens with Queens Museum of Art
The Uni returned to Corona Plaza, Queens, another plaza newly pedestrianized by NYC DOT. Our host was the amazing Queens Museum, which has been trailblazing in its energetic efforts to engage the community outside their walls and, years ago, identified Corona Plaza as an important community space with great potential. (Read more about the museum’s approach to community and efforts in Corona Plaza in this interview with QMA Director of Programs, Prerana Reddy.) A big thanks to our new volunteer, Xavier Williams, graduate student in the Theories of Urban Practice program at Parsons Design school.
May 10, 2013: Putnam Triangle, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, with FAB Alliance.
The Uni deployed to Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, in support of the Fulton Area Business Alliance’s “FAB Fridays.” Our location was Putnam Triangle Plaza, a newly pedestrianized plaza created by NYC DOT in partnership with local community groups. We had a lot of little kids out for the evening with their parents, kids waiting on their mothers having their hair done at the nearby beauty parlor, and other folks who lived on the surrounding streets. We were joined again by biologist Andrew Collins, who collected ants (and leaves) to look at under the microscope with kids. Thanks to FAB Alliance and volunteer librarians Meghan and Leigh for their help!
May 9, 2013: Clark Playground, South Bronx.
The Uni deployed to a playground adjacent to MS 223 and Clark Junior High School in the South Bronx (Third Ave and E144th St) in support of MS 223’s Community Reads Night, a weekly event designed to encourage everybody in the community to read. We chose a paved area just outside the playground where we could catch the eye of the students after school and also attract people on the busy street. The Uni was warmly welcomed and quickly drew a crowd. One man reported, “I’ve lived here 25 years and never have I seen anything like this. This is great.” Thanks to volunteer librarian Emily, and to Literacy Coach Heather Burns and Principal Ramón Gonzales of MS 223, for spreading the word about the Uni in the community!
May 4, 2013: Uni at IDEAS CITY StreetFest, 11am-6pm.
The Uni deployed to a closed-off street on the Lower East Side on a lovely spring day as part of the New Museum’s IDEAS CITY StreetFest, a festival filled with all kinds of inspiring grassroots organizations and ideas for improving the city. In line with the festival’s theme of Untapped Capital, we did what we always do—used the Uni to enlist available street-level space in the effort to foster a stronger, more prominent culture of learning. See more photos.
April 13, 2013: MoMA PS1 VW Dome 2, Rockaways, Queens.
The Uni deployed to the Rockaways in Queens, an area still recovering from Sandy. We set up alongside the cool-looking temporary programming space set up by MoMA PS1, called the “VW Dome 2” as part of an afternoon coordinated by the Queens Museum of Art. The Uni ran from 2pm – 6pm in the parking lot between Beach 94th and Beach 95th streets, Rockaways, Queens (map). Read more here.
Feb – May, 2013: Uni at Queens Museum of Art.
The Uni is now on display right now in the Queens Museum of Art! We’ve deployed a mini-tower and benches as part of the exhibit Arte Útil Lab, giving a sample of what we offer on the street. Museum visitors are encouraged to sit down, browse the books, and read right there in the gallery. (See a fun time lapse of the gallery load-in and more photos.)
We’re honored to be partnering once again with QMA, our host at Corona Plaza in 2012.
Where we went in 2011-12:
November 2012: Red Hook, Brooklyn.
The Uni went to Coffey Park in Red Hook, Brooklyn, to serve a waterfront community still struggling after Hurricane Sandy. We set up between FEMA and the food trucks, across the street from a mobile clinic. And we went in partnership with the Brooklyn Public Library—BPL staff did the advance work for our visit as part of their own efforts to serve Red Hook via their branches and bookmobiles. The hero of the day was Robert Berkman, a math educator who created a street math cube for the Uni—he came for the entire afternoon and dazzled us with math games. Thanks to Uni volunteer Leigh Hurwitz, Eleanor and Malcolm Davol, and some outstanding, local kids who donned librarian lanyards and helped strike the Uni in the evening. Photos here.
November 2012: Corona, Queens.
The Uni went back to Corona Plaza (4th time!) for a community storm relief event hosted by the Queens Museum of Art. We offered a place for folks to gather, read, and also donate books to those affected by the storm. Special thanks to Urban Librarians Unite for working on donations. Also thanks to José Serrano at QMA, Uni Volunteers Anna Robinson and Ken Gordon, installer Nelson DeJesus, and Eleanor and Malcolm Davol. Photos here.
(Fall 2012: Venice, Italy.)
The Uni was included in the U.S. Pavillion at the 13th Architectural Exhibition at the Venice Bienniale, Aug 29-Nov 25. Complete coverage Architect Magazine and Twitter.
October 2012: Corona, Queens.
We returned to Corona in October to keep putting books and learning at street level. This was a return visit for the Uni, and it helped continue the discussion about the future of this newly pedestrianized plaza right under the 7 train. We had to cut things short due to rain—thanks for coming out in the morning. Thanks to Uni Volunteer Librarian Leigh Hurwitz, the Queens Museum, and Alex Garcia. Special thanks to Eleanor and Malcolm Davol. Photos here.
September 2012: Hunters Point, Long Island City.
On Sept. 22 the Uni partnered with the Queens Library and a local Friends group announce a new library branch coming to Hunters Point, Long Island City. Hunters Point is an emerging neighborhood eager for places to gather around books and learning. We set up the Uni at Gantry State Park (Center Boulevard and 48th Avenue) right near the site of a future library branch that will have a view of the UN across the river. Thank you to Uni Volunteer Librarians Meghan Dowell, Leigh Hurwitz, Kelleen Maluski, and Gabriella Radujko.Thanks to Camille Barrett, Community Relations Manager of Queens Library, and all of the members of the Friends of the Hunters Point Library. It was great to see City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who dropped in as well. Special thanks to Malcolm Davol, Eleanor Davol, and Uni Installer Nelson DeJesus. See photos here.
August 2012: Corona, Queens.
Back in July, we squeezed a reading room onto a narrow strip of sidewalk alongside traffic and parked trucks at Corona Plaza. Here’s a guest post we wrote for the Queens Museum blog about the Plaza. In August, we returned as part of a community event coordinated by the Queens Museum. This time, we had room to spread our wings because the pedestrianization of the plaza was underway, and we joined other groups led by the Queens Museum of Art and the Queens Economic Development Council. Corona is a great place to show what can be done with books and learning once cars are removed from the picture. Thank you to Uni Librarians Stephanie Yee and Anna Robinson, and installer Nelson DeJesus. Thank you to our hosts, especially José Serrano at the Queens Museum. Photos here.
August 2012: Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
The Uni came out on August 5th in Williamsburg on the dead end of Cook Street between Graham Ave and Humbolt Street. Our host was the Graham Avenue Business Improvement District, which is working to foster a farmers’ market and “play street” for local residents on the closed off street. Thank you Uni volunteers: Leigh Hurwitz, Kelleen Maluski, Meghan Dowell, Anna Robinson, Marilyn Kahn. Thank you installers: Evan Bender and Nelson DeJesus. Photos here.
July 2012: Corona, Queens.
The Uni went to Corona on July 29 and transformed a part of Corona Plaza near the 7 train’s 103rd St station into a reading room all day. We were invited here by the Queens Museum of Art to support the New York City Department of Transportation and other local organizations in transforming the area into a vibrant open space for residents as part of NYC DOT’s Plaza Program. Thank you to today’s special partners: Queens Library and the Louis Armstrong House Museum. Thank you Uni volunteers: Allie Janvey, Meghan Dowell, Stephanie Yee, and Christine O’Heron. Thank you installers: Evan Bender and Nelson DeJesus. Photos here.
July 2012: East New York, Brooklyn.
The Uni went to market on Saturday, Jul 28 on Schenck Avenue between New Lots and Livonia Avenues. Our host was East New York Farms!, a project of United Community Centers which hosts a twice-weekly farmers’ market from Jun – Nov. Thank you Uni volunteer: Kelleen Maluski. Thank you installers: Evan Bender and Nelson DeJesus. Photos here.
June 2012: Waterfront at Boston Children’s Museum.
The newly-fabricated, second Uni was tested in public space on the Boston Waterfront before being shipped to Almaty Kazakhstan to create a roving library there. Photos here of the Uni with lighted cubes in front of the museum. Shortly after, it was packed up and shipped abroad to become the second ever Uni in operation in a collaboration between the US Consulate in Almaty and the Children’s Library of Almaty.
April 2012: Lower East Side, with Jumpstart.
The Uni came out on Saturday, April 28 at Sara D. Roosevelt Park on the Lower East Side in New York City. We were there as part of a kid-oriented “Read-A- Palooza” festival sponsored by the early education and literacy organization, Jumpstart. Lots of books to read and fun activities. Thanks Jumpstart! More photos here.
December 2011: Biblioball 2011!
The Uni went out on the town on Saturday, Dec. 3. Learn more about Biblioball here. This year’s event benefited Literacy for Incarcerated Teens. Librarians who brought a book for public space and donated it to the Uni received a complimentary raffle ticket.
September 2011: Brooklyn Book Festival, with Brooklyn Public Library.
On Sunday, the Brooklyn Public Library and The Uni Project joined together to create a children’s reading room on Borough Hall Plaza at the 2011 Brooklyn Book Festival. The Uni took on a new form, or forms actually. The Brooklyn Public Library added BPL books which could be browsed on-site and even checked out by BPL patrons.
September 2011: Seaport, Lower Manhattan.
The Uni was put into service for the first time on Sunday, Sep. 11 at the New Amsterdam Market on the East River in Lower Manhattan. Read more about our decision to launch a reading room at this location.
Here’s what we offered in the Uni when we launched on Sept. 11, 2011:
- a selection of children’s picture books,
- curated book cubes from 826NYC, New York Bound Books, Furnace Press, and others.
- a set of book cubes selected specifically for the location, focusing on themes suggested by Market founder Robert LaValva and others: urban waterfronts, markets, Lower Manhattan history, small business, and urban living.
YOKO ONO WISH TREE
Yoko Ono’s WISH TREE project began in 1981 and was inspired by her childhood memory of going to a temple in Japan where the trees were filled with people’s wishes written on pieces of paper and knotted around tree branches. The specific tree that appeared in the Uni on Sep. 11, 2011, was originally used for Ono’s retrospective exhibition at the MIT List Visual Arts Center in 2001. Visitors were invited to write a wish and attach it to the tree.
Artist and educator Deb Putnoi created an interactive exhibit called The Drawing Lab, which was installed across four Uni cubes. The exhibit provided an opportunity to draw, and it featured a working Zoetrope where visitors created their own hand-powered animation.
I AM A CAMERA—Flash Fiction Cube
A Uni activity cube created by Jared Green. Flash fiction is a very short story, usually no more than 1,000 words, that captures a little piece of life “in a flash.” Flash fiction can be funny, serious, sad, exciting, or anything else you want—but it has to be short. Visitors were invited to pick up a clipboard, walk around the market, and write.
DONATE A BOOK FOR PUBLIC SPACE
There was no ribbon cutting or ceremony to mark the launch of the Uni. Instead, we invited people to drop by the market and donate a favorite book for public space, which Uni Librarians shelved right then and there.