The New York Public Library just got a lot of TLC.
The $200 million renovation of Manhattan’s largest branch, at 40th Street and Fifth Avenue, was finally unveiled Tuesday after the ribbon cutting, after about four years of construction.
Before and after photos obtained by DailyMail.com show the library’s complete facelift and new features, including a 42-foot atrium, roof terrace and floor-to-ceiling shelves for 400,000 books.
Renamed the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL), the library features 44,000 square feet of open, general public library space with double the seating capacity of the original model.
The 180,000-square-foot building was constructed between 1914 and 1915 when the Arnold Constable & Co. Architect T. Joseph Bartley designed the limestone-clad building with a granite base and neoclassical commercial expression.
The New York Public Library took over the building in 1970 and occupied all the floors in 1976. Two years later, Italian architect Giorgio Caviglieri renovated the space, but until now it never changed the layout and appearance of the department store.
Before and after photos show the dramatic $200 million renovation of the New York Public Library with 1978 interiors transformed into a bright space with 400,000 books, a 42-ft atrium (pictured) and roof terrace
The $200 million renovation of Manhattan’s largest branch, at 40th Street and Fifth Avenue, was finally unveiled on Tuesday during the ribbon cutting ceremony. Pictured: the entrance to the building before (left) and after (right) the transformation
Renovations include the library’s first dedicated section, aimed at children and teens, at 26,000 square feet
One of the main features of the renovated library is a public roof terrace
One of the building’s main features is the ‘Long Room’, a five-level room for browsing books, complete with a 42-foot-high atrium; two connected floors of classrooms, teaching and programming areas; meeting and consulting rooms.
Named after NYPL Trustee Anthony Yoseloff’s grandfather, the new 21,000-square-foot Thomas Yoseloff Business Center offers customers access to electronic resources such as the Bloomberg Terminals, in-person programs, classes, one-on-one sessions, offers in the area of personal finance and investment, small business resources, business and financial research and career services. The Thomas Yoseloff Business Center opened for appointments last month.
Renovations also include the library’s first dedicated section, aimed at children and teens, at 26,000 square feet. Customers could use programming rooms, podcast studios, reading niches, and a book sorter that uses a conveyor belt to reorganize materials after they’re taken off shelves.
And at 20,000 square feet, the new Pasculano Learning Center is the library’s first adult education center.
The 180,000-square-foot building was constructed between 1914 and 1915 as the Arnold Constable & Co department store. It is pictured above in the early 20th century (left) and in 2021 (right)
Before and after photos reveal the difference in design and aesthetics of the New York Public Library and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library
In 2014, the library’s leadership secured $150 million in city funding to begin a complete transformation
A notable architectural feature of the recently renovated library is what Houben calls the ‘Wizard’s Hat’
In 2014, the library’s leadership secured $150 million in city funding to begin a complete transformation. The project received an additional $55 million as a grant paid for by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
In 2015, Dutch architect Francine Houben, of the architecture group Mecanoo, joined Beyer Blinder Belle, a Manhattan-based architectural firm, as a designer.
They worked with the library leadership and conducted over a year of interviews with staff, customers and community stakeholders to create a spacious, bright and functional environment.
“Libraries are incredibly unique spaces, homes of knowledge and creation that should inspire, welcome and serve everyone,” Houben said.
“In this case, we were entrusted with a historic building in New York City, a building that attracts millions of visitors every year, but was never built as a library.
“We had to take the bones of that building and reimagine the ultimate library: certainly beautiful and filled with light, but above all able to meet the ever-changing needs of the institution and the New Yorkers it serves.”
Houben explained that she wanted to create a solution for housing hundreds of thousands of books while providing a comforting and inspiring atmosphere.
Its notable architectural feature is what Houben calls the “Wizard’s Hat,” a carved, painted and perforated metal structure that envelops the library’s seventh floor.
“We have created a welcoming public space that will be beautiful and functional 100 years from now,” she added. ‘In the most diverse city in the world, there is something for every visitor to inspire and I am proud of that.’
Construction on the building broke ground in 2017 and the library was set to open in May 2020 to coincide with the library’s 125th anniversary
The coronavirus pandemic slowed construction and last July the library opened only the first floor for use as a book takeout service
Covering 20,000 square meters, the new Pasculano Learning Center is the library’s first adult education centereducatie
The library features 44,000 square feet of open, general public library space with double the seating capacity of the original model
One of the main features of the building is the ‘Long Room’, a five-level room for browsing books, complete with a 42-foot atrium
Customers can use programming rooms, podcast studios and reading niches
The library is open from Monday to Thursday from 10am to 8pm, and on Fridays and Saturdays from 10am to 6pm
Construction on the building broke out in 2017 and the library was set to open in May 2020, along with the library’s 125th anniversary.
However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, construction was delayed and last July the library opened only the first floor for use as a book takeout service.
Cutting a ribbon on June 1 celebrated the official reopening of the library. It is now open Monday through Thursday from 10am to 8pm and Friday and Saturday from 10am to 6pm.
There are no personal programs yet and the Pasculano Learning Center and roof terrace will open on a date to be determined.
“It’s the central circulating library that New York City has long needed, wanted, and deserves,” said library president Anthony W. Marx.
“As we all look to our next chapter of recovery and renewal, it’s important that learning and opportunities are easily and freely accessible to all. There is no more important or more timed civic infrastructure project to achieve those ever-present and urgent goals.”