With news that British architect Norman Foster will "transform" the beloved Fifth Avenue Beaux Arts building of the New York Public Library, one can only be curious about the seven floors of stacks and basement--equivalent of 1.25 million cubic feet--that will be renovated. There are no renderings yet, but there are some clues about the stacks and basement from archival drawings and photographs, courtesy the NYPL.
The stacks (there are 88 miles of shelves at the library!) will be moved to the storage area under Bryant Park. Here are some details about the Bryant Park storage area, which opened in 1991 and will be renovated, too: "There is 6 feet of soil between the top of the extension and the park... Cost $24,000,000 including conveyor systems, microfilm storage vault, lighting, climate control, fire suppression systems, and compact movable shelving... 120,000 square feet linked to the main building by a 120-foot tunnel. There are 40 miles of shelf space under Bryant Park." And in 2006, NewYorkology visited the rarely-open- to-the-public stacks.