Posts tagged with "Carrere and Hastings":

Placeholder Alt Text

The NYPL’s two grandest rooms are now New York City landmarks

Today the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) added two stunning rooms in the main branch library to its roster of interior landmarks.

The New York Public Library’s (NYPL) main branch in Midtown Manhattan is a definitive New York building. The structure, built on the site of a former reservoir, commands a block-wide slice of 42nd Street between 5th and 6th avenues. Architects Carrère & Hastings spared no detail, especially on the inside, where a happy Beaux Arts explosion of arched windows, rosettes, ceiling murals, skylights, and brass chandeliers have sheltered writers and learners since 1911. It’s officially known as the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, and its grand interior is mostly unprotected.

One of the best-known rooms, the Rose Main Reading Room, was designated today, as well as the Bill Blass Catalogue Room. These spaces will join the main entrance and primary public spaces that lead up to the main rooms as interior landmarks. (The building's exterior was protected 50 years ago.)

The designation comes in the middle of a renovations spell at the library. With architects at the Dutch firm Mechanoo, the NYPL has just started work on the Mid-Manhattan Library, an adjacent branch, while renovations on the Schwarzman Building by the same architect have yet to be announced. The Schwarzman Building's main room and catalogue room, both on the third floor, re-opened to the public last year after extensive revamps that brought a dead-on replica of the original sky mural to the catalogue room.

The LPC convened in July to discuss those two rooms, but held off on a vote at that meeting. Although seven parties spoke in support of the designation last time, there was no public testimony at today’s meeting.

In a unanimous vote, commissioners affirmed the importance of library's signature rooms—and not just for the architecture. “The details, the ornament, the ceiling paintings, all of that is so remarkable,” said Commissioner Adi Shamir-Baron. In her estimation, the two blocks of interior space create a “rare condition” that makes the two rooms an "extraordinary and singular civic space and reminds us what civic space actually is, which is a place and ethic that honors and elevates the spirit of the individual and the collective.”

For one volunteer advocacy group, however, the designation doesn't go deep enough. The Committee to Save the New York Public Library (Save NYPL) wants the commission to consider 11 other rooms—essentially the whole building—for landmarking, and has submitted a petition with 2,000 signatures to the LPC for consideration.

Save NYPL, the same group that campaigned against the library's proposed Norman Foster renovation, cited how Carrère & Hastings knitted the rooms together via decorative motifs. In his testimony, Save NYPL President Charles Warren claimed that “[a] piecemeal approach to interior designation does not adequately respect this design and leaves some of New York’s most sublime manifestations of Beaux-Arts interiors unprotected.”

As precedent, he pointed out that the interiors of McKim Mead & White’s Boston Public Library are completely landmarked. 

In a phone call with The Architect's Newspaper (AN), Warren noted the effort all stakeholders took to get to today's vote, and he confirmed that Save NYPL will re-submit a Request for Evaluation to the LPC for the other rooms in the hopes they will be considered (calendared) and designated. He praised today's vote but explained his group's decision on the grounds that only full landmarking can protect the building. "The library claims it is a great steward," Warren said, "but they've carried out some changes that are questionable" like installing track lighting in the carved wood ceiling of the Gottesman Exhibition Hall, and removing the perimeter skylights in the Celeste Bartos Forum. Though the monumental exterior is recognizable to most New Yorkers and beyond, the building's all in the details. Save NYPL's vice president, preservation activist Theodore Grunewald, asked the LPC to preserve the reading room's pneumatic tubes, among other less-than-obvious—but still significant—features. In a prepared statement, NYPL President Tony Marx evaluated the LPC's decision. "The New York Public Library applauds today's vote to officially designate the Rose Main Reading Room and Bill Blass Public Catalog Room as New York City interior landmarks. For over a century, we have been proud, dedicated stewards of these architectural and civic treasures, and will continue to preserve and protect them with the respect and care that they require and deserve. We thank the Landmarks Preservation Commission for partnering with us in our mission to ensure that these beautiful, unique rooms inspire visitors now and for generations to come."
Placeholder Alt Text

Archtober Building of the Day #4> Stapleton Library by Andrew Berman Architect

Archtober Building of the Day #4 Stapleton Library 132 Canal Street, Staten Island Andrew Berman Architects Libraries, according to architect Andrew Berman, principal of Andrew Berman Architect, do not age gracefully. As technological innovations and transforming communities change the role of these public institutions, fixed programmatic layouts become obsolete. During a tour of Stapleton Library in Staten Island, Berman explained that flexibility and openness became two key components that guided its renovation and expansion. Originally designed by Carrère and Hastings, fathers of the main New York Public Library on 5th Avenue, the Stapleton Library was suited to its small community. High ceilings and lofty proportions imbued the small structure with dignity, while varnished oak molding gave it a decidedly more rustic feel than its Manhattan relative. However, as Stapleton’s population increased and diversified, the Staten Island neighborhood outgrew its library, which became cluttered and poorly lit. Berman’s firm has carefully renovated the original 1907 building that now serves as a playful children’s area. The size of this space, he believes, is ideal for kids: large enough to create discrete areas for different programmatic needs. The new expansion has also doubled the space available to adult and young adult users. Afraid of compromising the building’s integrity through mimicry, Berman opted to handle the expansion as a separate structure, but one that remained in dialogue with the old. From the outside, the original masonry construction contrasts with the sleek transparency of the new space. However, Berman’s careful use of proportion allows the two structures to harmonize. Meanwhile, the library’s interior is unified through the use of wooden structural beams, which reference the moldings and shelving in the original space. Books line the walls, freeing up corridors for study tables and computers. In addition, the central mechanical core is clad in translucent polycarbonate, adding to the sense of openness. A community room is used for group study sessions, and also houses programs from arts and crafts to aerobics classes. Today, Stapleton Library is, quite literally, a beacon for its community. Berman’s expansion glows like a lantern at night, welcoming neighbors who often hang around outside even after closing hours to use the library’s Wi-Fi network. The architect hopes that the warmth, openness, and accessibility of the building will make it an inviting community space. Camila Schaulsohn is Communications Director and Editor-in-Chief of e-Oculus. She was born and raised in Santiago, Chile.
Placeholder Alt Text

A New Chapter for the New York Public Library: Foster + Partners Reveal Renovation Plans

New Yorkers, not to mention architecture critics, have been waiting with bated breath to see the plans for the controversial $300 million overhaul of the New York Public Library's historic flagship branch on Fifth Avenue. And today, the designs by Foster + Partners, were finally unveiled. The renovation of the Beaux Arts-style library, completed in 1911 by Carrère and Hastings, will remove seven floors of stacks under the grand Rose Main Reading Room to make way for a 300-person workspace with an expansive atrium, balconies, floor-to-ceiling windows, bookshelves, and new areas devoted to classrooms and computer labs. As of now, interior finishes will include a combination of bronze, wood, and stone. The plan is to transfer approximately 3 million books to new storage spaces beneath Bryant Park, and then send the remaining 1.2 million books to an off-site location in New Jersey. The newly renovated NYPL building on 42nd would then house the collections from the Mid-Manhattan Library and the Innovative Science, Industry, and Business Library. “We are reasserting the library’s main axis and its very special sequence of spaces, from the main Fifth Avenue entrance and the Astor Hall, through the Gottesman Hall, into the dramatic volume of the new circulating library, with views through to the park,” Foster said in a statement on the firm’s website. “Our design does not seek to alter the character of the building, which will remain unmistakably a library in its feel, in its details, materials, and lighting. It will remain a wonderful place to study. The parts that are currently inaccessible will be opened up, inviting the whole of the community—it is a strategy that reflects the principles of a free institution upon which the library was first founded.”