Dash Marshall




Center for an Urban Future & The Architectural League of New York

This project was completed by UNION, an interdisciplinary consortium including Dash Marshall, convened to generate ideas about the future of New York City’s public library systems.

UNION’s members were:

Annie Barrett
Sapna Advani
Bryan Boyer
Landon Brown
Scott Geiger
Helen Han
Jane Lea
Adriel Mesznik
Ryan Thacker
Ann Baird Whiteside

Together with our UNION colleagues, we crafted a strategic narrative imagining how New York City’s branch libraries can unlock funding to secure a better future for the institution.

The proposal was delivered as a series of narrated visuals that depict how small acts compound to create large-scale opportunities.

Fictional NYT spread Fictional NYT spread showing our goal: to reimagine libraries as part of the social infrastructure of the city—recognized and budgeted as such.


The Center for an Urban Future and The Architectural League of New York organized the ‘Re-Envisioning Branch Libraries’ design study. As one of five selected participants, Team UNION brought a unique interdisciplinary approach to the problem.

Instead of designing entire new library buildings, we responded to root problems including the massive lack of funding (over 800 million dollars), resulting in a state of poor repair at a number of the city’s branch libraries.

Our proposal describes a pathway to enhanced relevance for branch libraries. The central feature is a concept called “radical maintenance”, pairing basic repairs with a series of new roofscapes to bring more visibility to this critical institution.

The proposal was presented in the form of a near-future narrative showing how small acts, carefully designed, can snowball to create big changes.

You may read the full proposal at librariness.com.


This project began with a thorough discovery process, involving ethnographic interviews (including both administrators and users), field research, and desk research to refine our understanding of the opportunity at hand.

Team UNION’s research concluded once we were able to synthesize a set of key insights. From these insights our interdisciplinary team developed a portfolio of proposals including media campaigns, branding, new municipal programs, and architectural recommendations.

The outcomes were packaged in multiple formats including public presentations, a newspaper, and a website to enable easier distribution.