The area between West 42nd and West 40th Streets, and 5th and 6th Avenues, has undergone many transformations in the last 200 years. In the mid-1800s, the Croton Reservoir was built. By the end of the century it was torn down. And by 1902 the cornerstone was laid for the New York Public Library's main branch. Today, images of the latest change have been released, showing the library's somewhat controversial $300 million renovation.
The NY Times says British architect Norman Foster "has essentially created a major new contemporary library within Carrère & Hastings’s neo-Classical one." Which sounds terrifying for those who fear change, and since it was first announced, critics have been outspoken, many worrying the Main Reading Room will turn into a massive Starbucks.
The renovation will open up more of the library to the public, with 40% more space. The renovations will center around the area currently off-limits to the public, housing seven floors of stacks—this will be transformed into a four-level atrium which will provide more sitting areas and desks for the public, as well as a view of Bryant Park.
While criticism continues to pile up—architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable has said: “You don’t ‘update’ a masterpiece"—lead designer Nigel Dancey promises, “None of the key spaces are being changed." And it's not like they're burning the books, the ones housed in the current stacks will be relocated to new ones underneath Bryant Park. Which sounds kind of cool. Plus, they will extend hours to be open 7 days a week, 12+ hours a day (on most days).
But what do you think, does it look too... Barnes & Noble?