The New York Public Library: Between Tradition and Innovation

Renowned architecture firm Foster + Partners revealed this month new images and details with the The New York Public Library’s plans, an amazing project which aims to preserve the 101-year-old landmark’s  original façade and interiors and restore it, whilst create  with 66% more public library space than it’s currently available in all three locations on 42nd Street. The construction is planned to begin in 2013 and is expected to be completed in 2018. Although it will take five years, all the locations will remain open and you can access its services.

Overlooking Bryant Park, the 160,000-square-foot iconic building will have a new dynamic circulating library, which will replace the huge existing area filled with outdated book stacks that has never been opened to the public because they didn’t meet the needs in terms of capacity, fire safety or preservation. The new modern storage beneath Bryant Park will house most research volumes from that area,  thanks to a generous gift from Library Trustee Abby S. Milstein and her husband, Howard P. Milstein. The original shelving are also reused in new spaces. In this way,  more New Yorkers will enjoy the Beaux-Arts treasure from the awe-inspiring historic rooms of this masterpiece reopened due to Pritzker Prize–winning architect Norman Foster’s Central Library Plan.

Some of the spectacular rooms like the centerpiece grand Rose Main Reading Room and majestic Astor Hall will be retained as they are today. Visitors will be able to see a more inviting and more permeable building, which will incorporate the services, programs and books now found at heavily used but seriously deteriorating Mid-Manhattan Library across Fifth Avenue and at the innovative Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL) on 34th Street. New Yorkers will enjoy free access to quiet study zones, programs and events in different meeting spaces, books to browse and check out, new centers for children and teens, classrooms for ESOL, literacy, and many other services. It will be the most exciting library in the world, a centre of knowledge,  scholarship and information in the heart of New York City. Check out more information about this remarkable project on designer’s website.

Photos © Foster + Partners and

Here is an animated video about the project to watch, which takes you into The New York Public Library’s Central Library Plan:

Central Library Plan

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