Inside New York Public Library’s $200 Million Facelift

Earlier this week, the former Mid-Manhattan Library reopened as the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library, after undergoing US$200 million renovations.

The library is New York Public Library’s largest and busiest circulating library, seeing more than 1.7 million visits and a circulation of 2 million items every year. Having been closed for renovations since 2015, the library’s public reopening was met with much excitement from the New York City community.

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library entry: Courtesy of NYPL/John Bartelstone

The multi-million dollar renovations began with the initial intent to transform the library into an accessible public space that could provide life long learning to all. To do so, the library has installed a learning centre for adult education class, a dedicated podcasting studio for children and teens, and an entire children’s floor.

Within the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library’s 180,000 square foot space, there are four floors of general collections and reading rooms, over 400,000 books, increased public seating areas, a glass enclosed business and conference centre, as well as a rooftop terrace with a cafe and garden.

The renovations were undertaken after extensive research on the building’s architecture and history. Led by Dutch architect, Francine Houben, the renovation team interviewed the public and library staff before making design decisions. From their research, they discovered that much of the former space was under-utilised and sunlight-deficient.

On entry, visitors are greeted by a 43-foot-high atrium and red carpeted hall. While the interior has been radically modernised, the travertine marble wall cladding and bronze shelves ensure the library retains a sense of its iconic history in the city.

With covid-19 restrictions still in place, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library tempts it’s visitors with a gradual reopening. While parts of the building remain closed until restriction ease, the first five floors should satisfy the city’s excitement for now.

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