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Mecanoo unveils plans for NY public library’s $317M renovation

Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo has finally unveiled the $317 million master plan it developed in collaboration with local practice Beyer Blinder Belle to renovate the New York Public Library’s main building at Fifth Ave. and 42nd St.

During the library’s board of trustees meeting on Nov. 15, visuals and details were released showing a reconfiguration to increase the building’s publicly accessible space by 20 percent. Presently, only one third is open for public use.

To achieve the goal, the design firm will repurpose underused spaces like the existing staff and storage areas into new functional areas for research, exhibitions and educational programs.

“We developed a masterplan that inherently adheres to the logic of a beaux-arts building,” said Francine Houben, founding partner and creative director of Mecanoo. “Our changes are both subtle and clever to direct the flow for different user groups, for example, or to improve the quality and function of currently underused spaces.”

The library has released the visuals reflecting the master plan to attract investors for the renovation, which will involve two construction phases between 2018 and 2020.

A new entrance will be built on 40th St. leading to a raised public plaza and an educational area for university students and school children, the Center for Research and Learning. Meanwhile, inside the library, the Lenox and Astor Room will be constructed to host a display of books and artworks. Other new additions include a cafe with an extended shop and a permanent exhibition space in the Gottesman Hall.

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