New York Public Library Gets a Makeover this Summer

Written By Liam Delaney | December 19, 2012
2019%2f09%2f13%2f12%2f21%2f13%2f6ca7c403 7320 4e9a 9d1a dcaf27b81670%2ffile

It has been 10 months since the New York Public Library announced plans for a $300 million renovation of the classic  Fifth Avenue building. In that time it has faced waves of controversy, with scholars and writers accusing the library of abandoning its commitment to research and people wondering what in fact the new building will look like. Luckily, the latter question has been answered with newly revealed renderings of the new contemporary design.

The library chose renowned British architect Norman Foster to design the new space. The renovation calls for opening the building’s central channel from the Fifth Avenue entrance to the other side facing Bryant Park. The space at the back is currently occupied by seven floors of stacks closed off to the public. Mr. Foster’s plan is to replace this space with a four-level atrium, complete with bookshelves, seating areas, and desks all overlooking Bryant Park. The renovation also plans to convert the second-floor office spaces and storage rooms into work space capable of accommodating 300 writers, researchers, and scholars. Lastly there will also be a revamped children’s space, a new center for teenagers, and below ground education spaces.

Unfortunately the plan has not arrived without controversy. Initially people were worried because of plans to move most of the books in the stacks to a storage facility in New Jersey to make room for the new circulating library. The library responded by recently revising the plan with the help of an $8 million donation. The revision creates more space for the books beneath the circulating library, allowing 3.3 million of the research library’s books to remain on site. Furthermore, many people were worried that the redesign would turn the library into a glorified Starbuck’s, but Mr. Foster, who has enormous experience with designing contemporary additions to historic buildings, said, “This is not an attempt to mimic that design, but to respect it.”

The new design is going to consolidate several pieces of The New York Public Library under one roof, including the Mid-Manhattan Circulating Library across the street from the main branch, and the Science, Industry, and Business Library found at 34th Street. This consolidation should save the library about $15 million a year. The buildings that housed these branches will be sold, the proceeds of which will go into the library’s endowment. Officials for the library said that the $300 million estimated cost of the renovation has already been raised, with half the money coming from the city. Construction is slated to begin in the  summer of 2013 with an expected completion date of 2018. Once completed the new library will total 100,000 square feet, making it the largest indoor public space in New York.

Blog Archive


This information is not verified for authenticity or accuracy and is not guaranteed and may not reflect all real estate activity in the market. © 2021 REBNY Listing Service, Inc. All rights reserved. RLS IDX Data display by Elegran LLC. IDX information is provided exclusively for consumers’ personal, non- commercial use and that it may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing.

Elegran LLC may or may not be the exclusive listing agent of the properties being displayed on All data displayed on is presented for informational purposes only and should be independently confirmed by all customers. All Information is compiled from both public and private sources including, but not limited to the RLS, MLS and ACRIS; each of which is assumed to be reliable. All information displayed is subject to errors and omissions regarding apartment specifications and final sale prices, and further, any unit listed may have had its listing withdrawn without notice subsequent to such information being compiled. No representation is made as to the accuracy of any description (ie: listing, close sale data, and/or building description) of any building or individual unit. All measurements and square footage are approximate and all information herein should be confirmed by customer and/or their attorney. Elegran LLC, its members, affiliates, and contributors adhere to New Your City, New York State, and United States Fair Housing Laws.