Ramus says many of the design solutions, for what seems like a complicated structure, were actually simple. The tilted pillars transfer loads from the jutting platforms to the conventional parking garage columns far below, for example. The size of the diamond windows resulted from calculations of steel, weight and manpower to simplify installation, delivery and crane time.
The 11-storey glass building is open and transparent, so passers-by can see the activity inside. The innovative glass system, which allows this transparency, is the first of its kind in the US. The type of glass used is dictated by its placement. Large areas of solar penetration, for example, have small, triple-glazed panes, while areas in need of natural light have large clear panes. Despite its expanse of glass (11,777m²), the building's shape is irregular, with rooms jutting out over the street. Curved and linear walls exist comfortably alongside each other.
The steel exterior creates a skin for the diverse collection of rooms inside. There are friendly children's rooms, expansive reading areas, bright teen centres and thought provoking artwork. As well of course as space for reading material, although it does only comprise 32% of the total floor space.
The first three levels contain the interactive parts of the library: a children's room, learning centres, teen centre, (food and beverages can be taken from here into research and book areas), an auditorium and exhibition space. Access to these is via two dramatic entrances, the main entry off Fourth Ave, and the Fifth Ave entrance. The latter is accessed through a covered walkway and leads directly into the Norcliffe Foundation Living Room. This vast atrium soars to a height of 12m at its highest point.
Other areas are defined through colour. The children's centre has bright yellow and pink rubber flooring and child-sized poufs; escalators and lifts are an intense green-yellow making them easy to spot; and meeting rooms on level four are connected by blood-red hallways.
Level five accommodates a technology room the mixing chamber with 400 public computers and fire-proofed walls. Its aluminium floor mimics the industrial appearance of the exterior, and is meant to be scratched and become worn over time.