Get a Uni

Create pop-up libraries, art studios, and more.
Programming kits for public space.

The Uni Project is a nonprofit dedicated to expanding a culture of learning beyond the walls of schools, museums, and libraries, into public space. To that end, we’ve developed programming kits that can be deployed in almost any location. We operate open-air reading rooms and other programs in New York City, using a pop-up approach to move between neighborhoods. We also fabricate and ship our kits to cities, libraries, and organizations across the globe.

One kit features a patented stage case that rolls into place and unfolds to reveal books or an art studio. Another uses a system of cubes to create a 360º library. We also fabricate stackable benches. We connect, promote, and support organizations using these designs so we can all share new solutions and best practices.

The project has been hailed as a “groundbreaking idea” by Library Journal and was featured in the US Pavilion 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale. It was awarded an Innovations in Reading Prize from the National Book Foundation in 2013 and was a winner of the Mayor of Boston’s Public Space Invitational in 2014.

We’ve built and shipped Uni infrastructure to the DC Public Library, Seattle Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy (Boston MA), Calgary Public Library, The U.S. State Department, and many more partners. Contact Sam Davol to receive a proposal.

Uni Benches

Uni Benches are sturdy, lightweight (9lbs), and stackable, providing seating for two people side-by-side. They can be easily arranged for readings, workshops, and events. The bench material is translucent polypropylene and can be made in custom colors. We also make a custom bench dolly.

We usually ship ten benches with each programming kit, but the number is flexible. Here’s a tip: we’ve found that the number of benches you deploy is the best gauge of the size of your installation in public space. So, when creating a pop-up reading room, it’s usually the number of benches (not the number of books) that will define the scale of your event and staffing needs for the day.

 

Uni Tower/Cubes

The Uni Tower is a modular structure that displays books and materials in a 360º configuration. The award-winning design is an attraction in and of itself—a sculpture that offers a reading room in the round, based on a system of 48 tapered cubes that stack, align, and connect via embedded magnets. This kit is a good choice if you are using a smaller vehicle for transport—it can be deployed at smaller scales using fewer cubes.

The tower can be deployed at full height…

…or 3/4 height (36 cubes)…

..or 1/2 height (24 cubes) and other variations.

At any height, the tower can also be configured to fit against a wall.

Half height creates a nice table surface for displays and activities.

The full tower kit includes two baseplates so you can create two mini towers.

A tower can be installed on any level site, without tools, and includes a magnetic baseplate, segmented for easy storage.

Cubes are made of wood and are 14” x 14” x 8” at 8 lbs each. Fire resistance certification available for institutions.

Individual cubes can be deployed as tables and display surfaces.

Templates available so you can create chalkboard, cork, or printed signage inserts.

We make a custom marine canvas cover.

Uni Cart

The Uni Cart transports books and activities inside a patented, rolling stage case, which unfolds into an attractive, two-sided sculptural shelf. Magnets allow the cart to stay open in partially open positions, as well as fully open. The carts can be built in different sizes and can also be outfitted with a special, extra-large shelf for drawing boards, oversized books, and other materials.

On level ground, a fully loaded Uni cart can be moved by one person. Carts can roll through a standard doorway, so the entire kit can be stored indoors and moved outside by hand. A hasp allows a cart to be locked shut and secured in place. The key advantage of the cart is that it keeps all materials consolidated in a single unit for transport and storage.

The Tall cart offers a total of 18 shelf bays across two sides. The height of the cart attracts attention and provides ample room for books, face-outs, activities, and signage.

The Mini cart has 10 shelf bays across two sides and provides a table-height top surface that is great for activities and displays. The smaller size makes the Mini easier to manage and transport.

Two or more tall carts can be combined to create larger structures.

 In NYC, we use carts to expand our programming beyond books to include art, science activities, exhibits, and more.

The top surface of the mini cart is a good height to for displays for adults and older children.

The mini cart can be outfitted with a special extra-large shelf for drawing boards, oversized books, and more.

We make a custom marine canvas cover.

Another option: “seatbelts” to secure books from sliding off the shelf in transit. Belts hide behind the books when the cart is open.

FAQ

Can you deliver kits that include content (books, art supplies, etc)?

Yes. We have curated and delivered library collections, fully stocked art studios, science exhibits, and library outreach kits for various partners. And if you prefer to choose your own content, we’re always available to share our approach to curating programs in NYC.

What project support do you offer?
We’re committed helping you create a successful experience for your community—that’s part of our mission. To that end, we provide instructions for the care and use of your kit, and we’re available by phone and email if you have questions about the planning, promotion, collection development, and operation of your open-air reading room or other programming.
What are dimensions and weights of the kits?

Benches are 14.5”H x 16”W x 30”L and weigh 9lbs each.

Uni cubes (for tower) are approximately 15.5”H x 15.5”W x 15.5”D (tapered side 8″) and weigh 8 lbs each.

The mini cart is 38”H x 25”W x 46”L closed and weighs approximately 200 lbs, empty. Each shelf bay is approximately 14″ tall and 14” wide, providing approximately 168 linear inches of shelf space.

The tall cart is 50”H x 25”W x 50”L closed and weighs approximately 250 lbs, empty. Each shelf bay is approximately 14″ tall and 14” wide, providing approximately 252 linear inches of shelf space.

Do I need a truck?
Not necessarily, but it helps. Here’s how we deploy these kits in NYC…

By hand:
On level ground, a fully loaded Uni cart can be rolled into position by one person. All Uni gear is sized to fit through a standard doorway, so the entire kit can be stored indoors and rolled outside by hand.

By minivan:
With seats removed, we deploy 12 cubes, benches, and books to create small, pop-up reading rooms. We also deploy a Mini Cart and benches via minivan, using a small ramp to roll the cart into the side door of the minivan.

By truck or full-size van:
The carts can also be transported in a truck or van using a ramp or lift-gate. When carts are fully loaded with books, this is our preferred method. Contact us anytime for advice about transportation.

Can you help me prepare a Sole Source Justification Memo?
Yes. In 2011, when The Uni Project decided to launch a portable reading room in New York City, we researched the marketplace and decided to design and build furniture components that met our needs. The result is the Uni Reading Room Cart (US Patent No. D744,773) and the other designs in this proposal. Sample sole source justification memo available.

The Uni cart, tower, and benches are based on original designs by Höweler + Yoon Architecture, created in partnership with the Uni Project. The components are fabricated by independently owned businesses in Essex MA, Brooklyn NY, and Woburn MA, under the supervision of the Uni Project. Key innovations are that the components are lightweight, weatherproof, self-standing, securable in transit and on location, and able to roll easily into position to create an attractive place to gather in public.