New York Public Library (NYPL) president Anthony Marx has commissioned a third-party review of the projected $300 million cost to implement Norman Foster’s redesign of its central branch. To pay for this costly renovation, dubbed The Central Library Plan, the library will use $150 million allocated by the city for this specific project and raise an additional $200 million from the sale of the Mid-Manhattan and the Science, Industry, and Business Libraries. NYPL says consolidation will save it $7.5 million a year. Critics of the plan advocate preserving the central branch’s stacks and renovating the Mid-Manhattan Library instead.
Marx said to the New York Times, “we know there is skepticism about our numbers. We understand that there needs to be an independent cost estimate and will provide one as soon as we have a design.” Marx also mentioned that both the estimated cost and Foster’s design are subject to change. More specifics will be released in the fall, but for now Foster’s design would swap the stacks for a circulating library overlooking Bryant Park that features a four-level atrium with bookshelves, sitting areas and desks.
Critics argue against removing the stacks and are skeptical of the financial estimates NYPL president Marx has put forward. State Assemblyman Micah Z. Kellner, chairman of the Committee on Libraries and Education Technology, questions why the NYPL has applied for and been granted building permits without a detailed design and specific cost.
Construction has been announced to start this summer and to be completed by 2018.