17 11 2016 First look at New York Public Library renovation

First look at New York Public Library renovation

Project updates
17.11.2016

The New York Public Library released a rendering showing a completely renovated Mid-Manhattan Library that will serve and inspire all New Yorkers. The upcoming transformation of NYPL’s largest circulating branch will increase seats, expand services, and add public space, creating a new, state-of-the-art library that will serve as both a model and catalyst for a rejuvenated library system.

The schematic design provides an early idea of what the Midtown branch will look like after a complete interior renovation, which is scheduled to begin in 2018. The project is much-needed at Mid-Manhattan, which opened in the 1970s in a space originally designed for a department store. The branch receives approximately 1.7 million visits annually and circulates approximately 2 million items each year.

The schematic designs for the project were developed by the project’s design team, led by architects Francine Houben of Mecanoo and Elizabeth Leber of Beyer Blinder Belle. The team worked for over a year analysing library usage data, interviewing staff, surveying the public, and meeting with community stakeholders to ensure that the new branch will best meet the needs of library patrons.

The renovated branch—located at Fifth Avenue and 40th Street—will have a dramatic, multi-storey wall of bookshelves; an employment skills centre occupying a full floor as well as an adjacent floor providing job-search help and small-business support; a full-floor dedicated to a library for children and a separate library for teens; the only free public roof terrace in Midtown; and hundreds more seats than the current branch.  

“New Yorkers will soon have the central circulating library that they need and deserve,” said NYPL President Tony Marx. “This library will transform lives by providing books, classes, and programs for New Yorkers of all ages, and it will transform our city—as it will be a model for how libraries can strengthen communities.”

"The building that was originally designed in 1914 to house the Arnold Constable department store will now really become a library," said Francine Houben of Mecanoo, the project's lead architect. "By creating the iconic Long Room for the circulating collection, dedicated spaces for children and teens, an adult learning centre and business library, plus a rooftop destination for multipurpose use, the building will inspire serendipity and the discovery of all functions of a modern library."

“The next phase of New York Public Library’s Midtown branch renovation is a great step toward moving New York’s public library into the 21st century,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The city of New York is very lucky to have such an extensive system of public libraries, and when completed, this renovated library will offer New Yorkers even more opportunities to organize, learn and study. I look forward to seeing this plan move forward, and hope this project can be a model for others to follow.”

"The Mid-Manhattan Library will be a gleaming centre for reading, research, and learning in the heart of the city," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "I’m proud to support this project and look forward to seeing these schematics and plans come to life."

The new 9,300 m2 Mid-Manhattan Library will offer more public space than is currently available, created by moving back-office staff out of multiple floors of the building to an adjacent facility; utilizing the roof to add an additional floor; and utilizing the lower level for the public. It will have capacity for approximately 400,000 books and other circulating materials.

The Long Room – the largest element in the new branch - will offer five floors of open, browsable book stacks, and two floors of meeting rooms. The shelves will all be located on one side of the building, maximizing capacity and efficiency. A dedicated business library will occupy an entire floor and sit adjacent to one of the city’s largest adult learning centres, providing a seamless continuum of educational opportunities. Approximately 1,580 m2 of general reading and study space, over 1,020 m2 of multipurpose space, and a floor of dedicated space for children and teens complete the new library’s public offerings. The rooftop terrace will be the only one in Midtown that is free and open to the public.

The new Mid-Manhattan Library will cost approximately $200 million, which includes a $150.7 million allocation for the project from New York City. The Library is currently fundraising for the project, as the remaining $50 million will come from private funds.

For more information and updates on the Mid-Manhattan project, visit: nyplmidtown.org

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