Sorry, Norman Foster, but your plan for a mindboggling makeover of the main branch of the New York Public Library is no longer needed. The Times reports that the library has heeded the calls of the public and abandoned its plans to drastically revamp it's landmarked Fifth Avenue building at 42nd Street. A variety of factors to the decision, but the strong opposition by the community and many scholars played a significant part, as did the four lawsuits filed against the library and the fact that the renovation was likely going to cost more than the projected $300 million. NYPL president Tony Marx said in a statement, "When the facts change, the only right thing to do as a public-serving institution is to take a look with fresh eyes and see if there is a way to improve the plans and to stay on budget."
The renovation would have eliminated the library's historic stacks under the main reading room (this was the biggest bone of contention) and created a very open, double-height, contemporary space. It would have been paid for with $150M from city funds and the proceeds from the sale of the Mid-Manhattan branch at 40th Street, as well as the Science, Industry and Business Library. The science library will still be sold or leased, but the Mid-Manhattan outpost will be kept and renovated.
The library's official statement elaborates on the new plans:
Instead of removing the central stacks and placing the Mid-Manhattan Library in that space, we are proposing to renovate Mid-Manhattan Library at its current site. This renovation will add much-needed computer labs and an adult education center, and an inspiring, comfortable space for browsing our largest circulating collection.
At the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, in keeping with the original plan, we are proposing to undertake the most comprehensive renovation in the building's history, reopening long-closed rooms to the public while leaving the stacks intact. The Schwarzman building will feature more than double the current exhibition space, a new education corridor serving children and teens as well as teachers, spaces and services for entrepreneurs and more space for researchers and writers. And because we are proposing to expand our storage space under Bryant Park, we will have the capacity to ensure that the on-site research collection will be both better protected and quickly accessible.· Public Library Abandons Plan to Revamp 42nd Street Building [NYT]
· NYPL Statement On The Central Library Renovation [NYPL]
· Norman Foster's Designs for the NY Public Library, Revealed! [Curbed]
· All NYPL coverage [Curbed]
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