LOT-EK Recycles Doors Into a Clever Storefront for Van Alen Books
Who said print was dead? Van Alen Books, specializing in both architecture and design, opened earlier this week, proclaiming the revival of the architectural bookstore. The project was commissioned by the Van Alen Institute and headed by Inhabitat favorite LOT-EK, a New York based architectural firm known for their combination of artful aesthetics with a “gritty,” industrial style. Although the space certainly does sell a great variety of architectural books and other diverse topics of interest (they even have a first edition reproduction of Bram Stoker’s Dracula for sale), the main idea was to create a space for conversation.
“We are not reinventing the wheel,” said Director Olympia Kazi. “We are addressing a need. We have received so much love, so much excitement, about books.”
What makes Van Alen Books so special however, is that it isn’t just a storefront — it’s an art installation that serves as a powerful social statement on the nature of books and public meeting spaces. It has long been a standing belief, especially in the 21st century, that because print sales are going down, bookstores are no longer needed. But not only is Van Alen Books a cool place for those looking for information on architecture and design, but it also serves as a nod to those who long for more stores of its kind.
LOT-EK created an interesting green design, using recycled doors from Build it Green NYC! to make a long, layered staircase in the center of the space. The stairs are used for seating, but also double as more shelving. LOT-EK implemented their signature style of having one half of their work finished and beautifully designed, while the other half is left to look more rough and gritty. LOT-EK states that:
Van Alen Books serves more as a statement in support of the public meeting space. Van Alen Books addresses the point that despite the fact that print book sales are slowly dwindling down, especially with the rise of the Kindle, public spaces where people can meet and discuss is what makes book stores relevant.
And indeed, bookstores are still relevant. Being that human beings are inherently social creatures, the need for a forum to meet and discuss is still desired. The purpose and design of this space might be unusual, and rather risky, but it definitely serves its purpose.
Van Alen Books
30 West 22nd Street
Open Monday-Saturday, 11am – 7pm