NY Public Library President Defends Renovation Plans

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The main branch of the New York Public Library. The main branch of the New York Public Library. (Geir Arne Hjelle/flickr)

Four years of planning, and a $300 million price tag. But the New York Public Library’s large-scale renovation still isn’t impressing a prominent architecture critic. In his review of the project Wednesday, Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times says loud and clear, “I’m not buying it.”

But the library is defending its plans, which are still in progress. The library says its goals include increasing public space with a new circulating library, and merging two other branches into the 42nd Street Space.

“Michael’s a great critic, I just disagree,” said Anthony Marx, president of the New York Public Library. “Norman Foster is one of the world’s great architects. We’re still working on the details of the design but we but we put preliminary visuals out because we’re a publicly-supported institution.”

Marx responds to critics’ concerns about the iconic building, in an interview with WNYC’s Amy Eddings. Click the audio above to listen.

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Comments [4]

NYPL employee from New York, NY

I'm not an administrator but I am an employee. Although I have a few issues with Foster's design, Kimmelman's article was terrifically off-base because it only looked at external design, totally disgregarding function and ignored the financial and preservation issues. As it stands now, the books at the 42nd Street library are deteriorating. During the summer the temperatures reach 100 degrees in the stacks, which due to their nature can not be retrofitted. Nearly all the construction would involve areas that the public has *never* seen. Every single one of my fellow employees has hated working in the Mid-Manhattan library because of the decrepit building (you can't tell from the public areas) which has numerous structural problems.

Feb. 06 2013 04:53 PM

Really insulting to the original and to all patrons. Pathetic if you can't do any better than that!

Jan. 31 2013 07:55 AM
DWLindeman from NYC area

This entire plan for the partial destruction of the NYPL's peerless research branch is a debacle in the making. Better to listen the the scholars, authors and the general public who can see and understand this, and scrap the current plans. The Mid-Manhattan Library should be remodeled instead, and the NYPL can build a skyscraper on top of that building, if it likes. I'm skeptical of Anthony Marx's endorsement of architect Norman Foster, and what the result of what he would be permitted to do (Lord forbid) could be. Sure, Foster is a brand name, but invoking Foster is not an alibi or rationalization for the destruction of a far greater building than Foster and his firm have ever designed.

Jan. 31 2013 01:23 AM
Seth from Ann Arbor

Kimmelman said it –– this design has all the elegance of a commercial shopping mall. Don't modernize NYPL.

Jan. 30 2013 05:24 PM

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