The New York Public Library (NYPL) released plans on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 for a new three-story, 28,000-square-foot branch library at 20 West 53rd Street in Midtown Manhattan, the site of the former Donnell Library Center. The plans depict a library “anchored by an internal topography that connects the library’s three floors, bringing light and views to the deepest corners of the plan’s lower floors and providing opportunities for interaction and public programs upon the interior library steps. A glass curtain wall, at street level, brings sunlight and the feel of the neighborhood into the library and allows those walking by to see the rich diversity of activity happening within.”
The… library… designed by world-renowned architect Enrique Norten and his firm TEN Arquitectos – will be a true civic space, accommodating a variety of patrons and needs, from individuals looking for quiet study spaces to others seeking small group discussions as well as those wanting to experience one of the larger public programs. The library will include two assembly spaces – an auditorium and bleacher seating – to support community workshops, educational programs and library events.
The American Institute of Architects, New York Chapter already honored the designs with a 2013 Project Merit Award. “The Library could not be more pleased with the spectacular designs that Enrique Norten and his team have created for the new 53rd Street Library,” said NYPL President Tony Marx. “The new branch is not only beautiful, but designed with flexibility that allows the Library to maximize its public space, and serve all members of the community for decades to come. We realize that the neighborhood has waited a long time, and we are thrilled to provide them with this new, state-of-the-art branch.”
The new $20,000,000 library is being built at the base of a building Tribeca Associates and Starwood Capital are currently erecting on the former site of the Donnell Library Center, which the NYPL sold Orient Express Hotels in 2008. The company was going to build a new hotel on the site and include a state-of-the-art, new library. Unfortunately, the economy stalled that project, and the property was told to Tribeca Associates and Starwood Capital two years ago.
The NYPL stated, “The new library is now expected to receive raw space from Tribeca Associates and Starwood Capital in 2014, and the branch is expected to open in late 2015. While it will be fewer square feet than the original Donnell Library, the new branch will not house administrative space or several collections (World Languages Collection, Media Collection, Teen Center, and Centralized Children’s Room) that have been moved to more appropriate and convenient locations for the public. The public space available at 53 Street for the services being offered is virtually identical to the space available at the Donnell. The temporary Grand Central Library will remain in operation until the new 53rd Street branch opens.”