The New York Public Library has unveiled schematic designs by Foster + Partners for the library’s 42nd Street location, after announcing the $300 million Central Library Plan in February, 2012. The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, designed in 1911 by Carrère & Hastings, currently houses seven levels of library stacks, but the proposed renovations will restore the library’s original lending capacity. Within the historic building, a new 100,000-square-foot circulation library, comprising four levels of reading areas and bookshelves, will overlook Bryant Park through full-height windows. The reference collection, meanwhile, will be relocated to a humidity-controlled storage facility beneath Bryant Park, with room for 3.3 million volumes.
Inside the new circulating library, vaulted stone-and-steel cradles will replace the existing stacks’ structural members, allowing for a four-story open space along the west façade to take advantage of the tall windows along the edge of Bryant Park. With additional renovations to the rest of the library, internal improvements will allow visitors to reach the new circulation library from the Fifth Avenue entrance, as well as an accessible entry on 42nd Street, arriving to a balcony with views to the adjacent park. “Our design does not seek to alter the character of the building,” Norman Foster, Hon. FAIA, said in a release. “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.”
Construction will begin in the summer of 2013, with an expected completion date in 2018.