New Donnell Library to be housed in Baccarat New York

The new incarnation of The Donnell Library On West 53rd Street will be housed at the base of Tribeca Associates and Starwood Capital’s Baccarat Hotel & Residences New York and will be a multi-functional but significantly smaller space, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Designed by TEN Arquitectos, the new $20 million space includes 144 amphitheater-style seats, a technology space and a children’s reading room and a 141-seat auditorium. The space reflects the shifting role of libraries and will be highly versatile, Anthony Marx, the library’s president and chief executive, told the Journal. 

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The New York Public Library intended to sell the MoMa-facing property in 2007 for $59 million to Orient-Express Hotels, which wanted to build a hotel there and committed to provide a replacement library space. But then the recession hit, and in 2011, Tribeca Associates and Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital bought the site instead for $67.4 million.

The developers are now building the Baccarat, which will contain a high-end hotel and 61 luxury condominiums. They will also build a significantly compressed space for the library, covering 28,000 square feet as compared to its 97,000-square-foot predecessor. The library will also have 16,000 square feet of public space, just over half of what the old branch had.

“The primary lesson going forward is that we should avoid, if at all possible, closing any branch, let alone a much-used branch,” Marx told the Journal. [WSJ]Hiten Samtani