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New York Public Library’s $317M master plan advances with LPC approval

The Landmarks Commission has approved a new entrance on the building’s West 40th Street facade

The new entrance will be nestled behind a wall encircling the plaza.
Mecanoo with Beyer Blinder Belle

The New York Public Library’s main branch will get a new entrance on West 40th Street along with a sixth carved dedication to Stephen A. Schwarzman, for whom the building was renamed after following a $100 million gift to the system in 2008.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the proposed changes to the 1911 Carrère and Hastings building on Tuesday after asking the library to make small modifications to the plan it initially presented in mid-February.

The changes to the building’s exterior are few but important: They’ll include the added entrance along West 40th Street and a new dedicated plaza and terrace surrounding it, a widened loading dock, and new lighting.

The entrance and plaza will also both bear carvings of the names of prominent donors; for the entrance, that will be the name of Blackstone Group founder Stephen A. Schwarzman, whose 2008 gift to the library came with a promise from NYPL to include his name at each entrance. The plaza will be named for Library Trustee and former Board Chair Marshall Rose—not the same Rose of the Rose Main Reading Room—and feature an inscription at the plaza’s east entrance.

The changes to the building’s exterior are part of a larger $317 million privately funded master plan for the Bryant Park-abutting building that was approved by the library’s Board of Trustees in November 2017. The plan will increase the library’s public space by roughly 20 percent by reutilizing former staff and storage spaces as public spaces for research, exhibitions, and educational programs.

The master plan will also double the number of seats dedicated to long-term research and collections usage, and create an education center on the ground floor that will help students do research and utilize primary sources. The plan by Danish firm Mecanoo with Beyer Blinder Belle does not currently affect any of the building’s historic reading rooms.

Work on the new entrance and plaza will begin in 2020 and wrap up the following year, when the larger master plan for the Stephen A. Schwarzman building is expected to be completed.

“This project to add a public entrance and terrace to 40th Street will better connect our historic building to the community, make the library’s collections, exhibitions and programs more welcoming and accessible to the public, improve circulation for people and books throughout the building, and increase outdoor public space,” said New York Public Library Chief Operating Officer Iris Weinshall at Tuesday’s hearing. “All of this work is crucial for better serving the public now and in the future. As such, we are excited about this project.”

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the Rose Main Reading Room is named after library trustee Marshall Rose. That is incorrect; it’s named after the children of library trustees Sandra Priest Rose and her husband Frederick Phineas Rose. Curbed regrets the error.

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