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Mecanoo takes over from Foster on NY Public Library job

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Mecanoo has been brought in to revamp the New York Public Library’s existing estate after Foster + Partners was dropped from the job last year

The UK’s biggest practice had been appointed to work on the £208 million overhaul of the library’s flagship Fifth Avenue building but the company’s plans were shelved after mounting criticism.

Now Mecanoo, the practice behind Birmingham’s new library, has been appointed to look at both how to rework this main branch - known as the Stephen A Schwarzman Building - as well as refurbish the library’s Mid-Manhattan building.

Mecanoo has been asked to increase space at the Fifth Avenue site by 42 per cent with underutilised staff areas replaced with facilities for researchers and writers, exhibition spaces and public programming space.

The Dutch practice will also collaborate with local firm Beyer Blinder Belle, on the $300 million scheme to revamp the existing Mid-Manhattan library - a scheme which willl see the building undergo a complete interior renovation.  

Mecanoo founder Francine Houben is set to move to New York for the project’s design phase.

Tony Marx, president of the New York Public Library, said: ‘Over 100 years ago, our city leaders knew that a great nation required a library that was the beacon of its largest city – and that couldn’t be more true today.

‘The Midtown renovation will provide today and tomorrow’s New Yorkers the library they deserve to access information, study, write, enjoy our treasures and all the other many wonderful forms of strengthening minds and our community at large that take place in a great library.’

Chair of New York Public Library’s board of trustees Evan Chesler, added: ‘With this team – Mecanoo, a worldwide leader in library design, and Beyer Blinder Belle, which has renovated New York’s most prominent and iconic historic buildings  - the library can be confident we can realise our ambitious, and critically important vision.’

Construction on the Mid-Manhattan building is set to begin in 2017 and is expected to complete in 2019.

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