When the neighborhood institution St. Mark’s Bookshop was struggling to pay its sky-high rent back in 2011, it asked landlord Cooper Union for a break to prevent having to relocate from its iconic 3rd Avenue and East 9th Street location. The institution wouldn’t budge, so the East Village and book-loving communities banded together in an attempt to save the store. Though after petitions, cash mobs, and celebrity visits, the owners announced in March that they’d be moving their shop to 136 East 3rd Street at Avenue A.
Longtime patrons were nervous about the new outpost, which recently opened its doors in the historic First Houses complex, but the contemporary design by Clouds Architecture Office does not disappoint. The undulating bookshelves snake through the shop, encouraging customers to peruse the eclectic collection of literature and freeing up interior space for neighborhood events. Through the storefront windows, the colorful books pop against the stark-white shelves, a true feast for the eyes.
In addition to twisting around the store’s perimeter, the modern, full-height shelves are canted out at the bottom to tilt book spines up toward customers’ eye level, and their vertical supports are pulled back to emphasize the horizontal bands. So as not to interrupt the curving continuity, section titles are etched into the wood. Low display units showcase new releases and curated book collections, but they also double as informal seating for readings and events.
To create a private office space, Clouds Architecture pulled the shelves toward the center of the store at one point, freeing up a windowed space behind them. This visual trick also allowed more of the shelves to face the entryway.
They may have lost their historic home, but St. Mark’s Bookshop gained a fresh neighborhood outpost that is sure to delight all who pass through its doors.
Check out more of Clouds Architecture Office’s work here.
Photos courtesy of Clouds Architecture Office
Neighborhoods : East Village