Renovating The New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

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The Steven A. Schwarzman building is a
magnificent example of Beaux-Arts style architecture and has symbolized the
democratic ideal of free and open access to knowledge since it opened to the
public in 1911. Today the Schwarzman Building welcomes
millions of visitors a year who find inspiration in its majestic public
spaces, unparalleled research collections, and vibrant programs and exhibitions. Over time, due to increased visitorship
introduction of new technologies and changing needs, programmatic functions
have been scattered throughout the building. The renovation will restore
elements of the Beaux-Arts design, arranging the building so that public
functions like exhibition spaces remain on the ground floor, while quieter
studying in research functions are distributed on higher floors. The renovation will significantly
improve the circulation of people, goods, and collections throughout the building.
A new 40th Street entrance for visiting groups will make it easier for everyone
to get in and out of the building and the introduction of a new elevator and
stairs will dramatically improve building-wide accessibility. Public space
will be increased significantly by relocating underutilized back-of-house
staff and support spaces in order to open the ground-floor and other areas on
the street level for public use. Entering the main entrance off Fifth
Avenue visitors to the Schwarzman Building will discover a number of new
amenities on the first floor. They can explore library collections on display
in new exhibition galleries, browse a spaciously renovated retail shop, or grab
a quick bite at a new cafe and lounge. Researchers can also venture upstairs to
the new Lenox and Astor room, designed for small seminars and up-close interaction
with collection materials. As visitors travel through the building they will
appreciate the clear distinction between the busyness of the public functions, now
concentrated on the first floor, and the quieter atmosphere supporting research
functions on the upper levels. The addition of a variety of public spaces
throughout the Schwarzman building will broaden the possibilities for public
programs and events that can be offered at the library. Visitors will enter at
the 42nd Street entrance make their way to nearby spaces designed to accommodate
a wider range of programs and events, like a brand new multi-purpose space
with restored original finishes or the newly upgraded Bartos Forum. A new 40th Street entrance and Plaza
will be created by making modifications to existing cellar space. This entrance
will accommodate staff and check-in needs for visiting school groups. These
school groups will visit the new Center for Research and Learning which will
further the New York Public Library’s mission to promote scholarship for the
next generation. Students will be able to interact with librarians and curators as
they work with the library’s vast collection of primary source materials,
exploring and learning at their own pace. Afterwards they can take a new public
elevator or set of stairs that connect all levels of the building on their way
to the new treasures exhibit in Goddesman Hall which will feature permanent and
rotating pieces from the New York Public Library’s rarest and most precious materials.


  1. You should be restoring the book stacks below the reading room FIRST. It's absolutely absurd that this needs to be "studied."

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