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Thinking Architecturally About Norman Foster's NYPL Plans

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There's been plenty of debate over the NYPL's mega-makeover plan from the perspective of the library as a research center, but now a more architecturally-focused discussion is arising. Norman Foster's plans would dramatically alter the interior of the library, displacing seven levels of bookstacks below the Rose Reading Room. At a recent public forum about the plans, architectural historian Mark Hewitt said, "As a preservationist, if I were to landmark the interior of the New York Public Library, one of the first things I would put on the landmark list would be those bookstacks. They are incredibly important as artifacts of early 20th-century engineering."

ARTinfo says Hewitt admires the stacks "not only for their compact design and their capacity to bear the load of the grand Rose Reading Room above them, but because of the fact that as bookstacks go, they are uncommonly fire-resistant." Hewitt also voiced concerns over whether or not the space is practical for the proposed open area with desks and computers, as it needs a huge amount of lighting and mechanical systems to be able to properly heat, cool, and illuminate the space for humans. "The cost, the logic behind this completely escapes me," said Hewitt, "and I think it probably would escape many other architects and preservationists."
· What Do Norman Foster's Plans for the New York Public Library Mean for its Storied Architecture? [ARTinfo]
New York Public Library coverage [Curbed]
[Image via Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine]

NYPL - Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

455 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY