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New York Public Library will begin its main branch revamp next month

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The multi-year revamp will begin on July 16 with construction on a new scholar center on the second floor

A rendering of the Lenox and Astor Room.
Courtesy Mecanoo with Beyer Blinder Belle.

The New York Public Library will commence the long-anticipated renovation of its main branch, the Stephen A. Schwarzman building, on July 16. First on the agenda, is the creation of a new scholar center that will be located on the second floor of the building at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue.

The Lenox and Astor Room, as this new space will be known, will have a mix of study areas, seminar spaces, and reading rooms. The new space has been named after the two founders of the New York Public Library, James Lenox and John Jacob Astor. The Astor connection doesn’t end there however, as the Room will feature 1,800 books and three paintings that Brooke Astor left in her will to the library. She was married to Vincent Astor, the great-great grandson of John Jacob Astor.

The Schwarzman building’s new scholar center will be created by combining 10 rooms on the library’s second floor, many of which have not been previously open to the public. Other aspects of this upgrade include improvements to the lighting and historical features.

The construction work will lead to the temporary closure of a corridor on the second floor that had some public tables, staff offices, and a research room. Most of the construction work will take place when the library is closed to the public; the corridor (and the new scholar center) will open in September 2019.

In the interim, the library is planning to add more seats in the Salomon Room, on the third floor, and to move researches from the closed room on the second floor to the Wertheim Study.

The creation of the Lenox and Astor Room is the first step in the multi-year revamp of the main library, designed by Mecanoo and Beyer Blinder Belle. Overall, this revamp will create 20 percent more space for research, exhibitions, and special programs at the library. The next stage in the Schwartzman building upgrade will begin next year, with improvements on all of the building’s restrooms.

The NYPL is also in the midst of renovating and expanding its Mid-Manhattan branch. That will reopen in 2020.