New images and details of Foster + Partners’ schematic designs for the Central Library Plan in New York have been released today. The project - a final cost of which is yet to be determined - includes opening up much more internal space to the public, doubling the existing square footage available to 66% of the building on 42nd Street. Construction is due to commence in 2013 with completion due in 2018.
The base of the development involves integrating the Circulating Library into the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building and protecting the precious research collections by removing them from their current location under the Rose Main Reading Room and placing them in a climatically controlled venue under Bryant Park. In doing so, Foster + Partners will open up a new space for public use - described as a ‘library within a library’ - where the stacks once stood. This space will now hold the Mid-Manhattan collections alongside the Science, Industry and Business Library.
Also on the cards is the creation of additional study spaces in this area. 13,000 structural points of the existing stacks will be replaced with a vaulted stone and steel cradle to enable the floors to be freed from the west façade. These will then be ‘peeled back’ to create a number of balconies upon which new study spaces and reading platforms will be located. The move will also unveil the entire length of the building’s slender windows for the first time.
Speaking on the new circulation routes in the building, Lord Foster explains: “We are reasserting the Library’s main axis and its very special sequence of spaces, from the main Fifth Avenue entrance and the Astor Hall, through the Gottesman Hall, into the dramatic volume of the new circulating library, with views through to the park.
“Our design does not seek to alter the character of the building, which will remain unmistakably a library in its feel, in its details, materials, and lighting. It will remain a wonderful place to study. The parts that are currently inaccessible will be opened up, inviting the whole of the community - it is a strategy that reflects the principles of a free institution upon which the library was first founded.”
The project also includes opening up historic rooms to the public and externally there are plans to insert a new emergency exit door, an updated loading dock and replica windows to refresh the building’s appearance. On completion, the Central Library Plan will enable the first circulating library in the New York Public Library in two generations.
“The New York Public Library is creating the single most exciting library in the world, a centre of knowledge, information, and scholarship in the heart of New York City,” said NYPL President Tony Marx. “With the Central Library Plan, we will open up more of our landmark building to the public, offering both circulating and research collections in one place, as well as the programs, classes, materials, and services needed by our patrons. All this, while better protecting our research collections and enhancing the research experience. The Central Library Plan is truly a vision for the future for the Library and the people of New York City.”