A little less than a year ago, the New York Public Library ditched its controversial plan to let Norman Foster completely remake its Fifth Avenue building, and now the library is moving forward with its new, (possibly) less controversial plan. The Journal reports that the library plans to send a formal request for proposals to eight architecture firms, chosen from an initial group of 24 that included Robert A.M. Stern and Studio Gang Architects (which is working on another major New York institution); it's unclear if these two firms are part of the final eight. The new renovation plan isn't very fleshed out, but officials say it will cost $300 million, and most importantly (at least for a lot of people), the library's historic stacks will be left intact, though they will be emptied.
The Journal says that the makeover plan is still "largely conceptual," and that library officials have not yet drafted a design brief for the architecture firms, though they plan to send it out this week. They hope to choose a final firm by September and complete the whole shebang by 2019.
Officials previously said that the new plan would renovate and re-open unused parts of the library that have been closed to the public, and turn these spaces into media and computer labs. They also proposed doubling the exhibition space, and "a new education corridor serving children and teens as well as teachers, spaces and services for entrepreneurs and more space for researchers and writers."
As for the century-old stacks, they will be left intact, but the books will be moved to expanded storage space under Bryant Park. That project is already underway, and the $24 million price tag is cheaper than what it would have cost to upgrade the stacks.
The plan also calls for selling the Science, Industry and Business Library on Madison Avenue, and moving those services to Midtown. The six-story Mid-Manhattan circulating library will be renovated and programming there will be expanded.
Even though Foster's glassy makeover was dropped, preservationists and locals are still worried about the new plans and want more transparency. Charles Warren, an architect and president of the Committee to Save the New York Public Library, said to the Journal, "Who is selecting the architects? Citizens have a stake in it, and they ought to be telling citizens what they plan to do with it."
· New York Public Library's Renovation Plans Advance [WSJ]
· New York Public Library Abandons $300M Renovation Plans [Curbed]
· All New York Public Library coverage [Curbed]