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First look at Mecanoo’s New York Library revamp

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The New York Public Library has released the first images of a planned renovation of its Mid-Manhattan building, designed by Mecanoo

The Dutch practice was appointed to the $200 million job in September 2015, a year after the library cancelled controversial proposals by Foster + Partners to overhaul its flagship building in Fifth Avenue.

Foster + Partners’ plan was dropped after New York mayor Bill de Blasio expressed scepticism over the project during his 2013 election campaign. Instead, the library decided to renovate its Mid-Manhattan branch on Fifth Avenue and 40th Street. 

The schematic designs were drawn up by lead architect Mecanoo along with New York firm Beyer Blinder Belle after consultation with users and staff.

The Mid-Manhattan branch of the library opened in the 1970s in a space originally designed for a department store. It receives 1.7 million visits a year and circulates 2 million items each year.

Francine Houben, creative director at Mecanoo, said: ‘The building that was originally designed in 1914 to house the Arnold Constable department store will now really become a library.

‘The building will inspire serendipity and the discovery of all functions of a modern library.’

The plans are set to create a facility of more than 9,300m² with 35 per cent more public space than the existing library.

A new ‘long room’ will be created, including book shelving and meeting rooms, as well as a new rooftop terrace which will be open to the public.

In addition, the revamp will include a new dedicated business library, an adult learning centre, a floor dedicated to children and teenagers, plus a multipurpose space for events.

Construction is set to begin in 2017 and is expected to complete in 2019.

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