Plans released today depicting The New York Public Library’s all-new 53rd Street branch in midtown Manhattan portray an open, light-filled design that offers a rich variety of public reading and meeting spaces, a family and children’s area, state-of-the-art computer labs, an audio-video collection, and accessible book collections that encourage communal interaction throughout.
The 28,000 square-foot branch, one of the largest in the NYPL system, is anchored by an internal topography that connects the library’s three floors, bringing light and views to the deepest corners of the plan’s lower floors and providing opportunities for interaction and public programs upon the interior library steps. A glass curtain wall, at street level, brings sunlight and the feel of the neighborhood into the library and allows those walking by to see the rich diversity of activity happening within.
The new Library is now expected to receive raw space from Tribeca Associates and Starwood Capital in 2014, and the branch is expected to open in late 2015. While it will be fewer square feet than the original Donnell Library, the new branch will not house administrative space or several collections (World Languages Collection, Media Collection, Teen Center, and Centralized Children’s Room) that have been moved to more appropriate and convenient locations for the public. The public space available at 53 Street for the services being offered is virtually identical to the space available at the Donnell. The temporary Grand Central Library will remain in operation until the new 53rd Street branch opens.
From the Article:
The library, which is expected to cost $20 million and was designed for the digital age by the architect Enrique Norten and his firm TEN Arquitectos, emphasizes places to congregate more than shelves for books. And it is a library that will be about one third of its former size.
“It has become more like a cultural space, which is about gathering people, giving people the opportunity to encounter each other,” Mr. Norten said. “It’s not really about just being a repository of books.”
People in the neighborhood have been upset about losing the Donnell since it closed on West 53d Street in 2008.
“They are shrinking it,” said Veronika Conant, a former librarian and a member of the Committee to Save the New York Public Library, an advocacy group. “We want our full-size library back, nothing less.”
Patrons entering from the street will encounter a set of wide bleacher steps to the levels below that can also serve as a 144-seat amphitheater. “I think of it sort of as an agora,” Mr. Marx said, “a place that will attract people to sit and read and write and talk to each other.”
The $20 million library, on the site of the former Donnell branch, will comprise the bottom floors of a ritzy new condo-hotel being developed by the Baccarat crystal company and its parent company, Starwood Capital Group, along with Tribeca Associates.