New York Public Library unveils plans for $300 million renovation

From left: Norman Foster, the New York Public Library and a project rendering (source: Curbed)
From left: Norman Foster, the New York Public Library and a project rendering (source: Curbed)

Starchitect Norman Foster’s plans for the renovation of the New York Public Library flagship on Fifth Avenue were revealed today, with features including a multi-level atrium, Bryant Park views and a teen center, the New York Times reported. Project construction will kick off this summer and will be completed in 2018.

Library officials told the Times that the renovated library — at a total of 100,000 square feet — will be the city’s largest indoor public space. After a renovation valued at $300 million — half of which came from the city — the new library will house the collections of the Mid-Manhattan Library Across The Street, as well as the Science, Industry and Business Library on 34th Street and Madison Avenue.

The property’s Central Portion Will Be Opened From The Fifth Avenue entrance back to Bryant Park, where a four-level atrium and sitting areas will replace book stacks that are now closed to the public. The renovation will allow for ground floor Bryant Park views for the first time.

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As previously reported, this renovation plan stirred controversy among hundreds of artists, writers and publishers, who called for a public discussion of the plan. Complaints centered on the library relocating most of the books in the stacks into storage to make space for the new circulating collection, which they claimed would weaken the library’s role as a leading reference center, the Times said.

In response, the library made a revision to the plan with the help of an $8 million donation in order to create additional space for books below the library, allowing for 3.3 million of the research library’s collection of 4.5 million volumes to remain inside the property.

Final building materials have not yet been selected, but Foster told the Times that the same materials inside — stone, wood and bronze — will likely be used again. [NYT]Zachary Kussin