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The New York Public Library unveils award-winning designs for new 53rd Street Library
Designs for the new 53 Street branch of The New York Public Library. ©TEN Arquitectos.

NEW YORK, NY.- Plans released today depicting The New York Public Library’s all-new 53rd Street branch in midtown Manhattan portray an open, light-filled design that offers a rich variety of public reading and meeting spaces, a family and children’s area, state-of-the-art computer labs, an audio-video collection, and accessible book collections that encourage communal interaction throughout.

The 28,000 square-foot branch, one of the largest in the NYPL system, is anchored by an internal topography that connects the library’s three floors, bringing light and views to the deepest corners of the plan’s lower floors and providing opportunities for interaction and public programs upon the interior library steps. A glass curtain wall, at street level, brings sunlight and the feel of the neighborhood into the library and allows those walking by to see the rich diversity of activity happening within.

The three-story library at 20 West 53rd Street – designed by world-renowned architect Enrique Norten and his firm TEN Arquitectos – will be a true civic space, accommodating a variety of patrons and needs, from individuals looking for quiet study spaces to others seeking small group discussions as well as those wanting to experience one of the larger public programs. The library will include two assembly spaces – an auditorium and bleacher seating – to support community workshops, educational programs and library events.

The designs have already been honored with a 2013 Project Merit Award from the American Institute of Architects, New York Chapter.

The Library could not be more pleased with the spectacular designs that Enrique Norten and his team have created for the new 53rd Street Library,” said NYPL President Tony Marx. “The new branch is not only beautiful, but designed with flexibility that allows the Library to maximize its public space, and serve all members of the community for decades to come. We realize that the neighborhood has waited a long time, and we are thrilled to provide them with this new, state-of-the-art branch.”

The new $20 million library is being built at the base of a building currently being constructed by Tribeca Associates and Starwood Capital. It is the former site of the Donnell Library Center, which was sold in 2008 to Orient Express Hotels. The company was going to build a new hotel on the site and include a state-of-the-art, new library. Unfortunately, the economy stalled that project, and the property was told to Tribeca Associates and Starwood Capital in 2011.

The new Library is now expected to receive raw space from Tribeca Associates and Starwood Capital in 2014, and the branch is expected to open in late 2015. While it will be fewer square feet than the original Donnell Library, the new branch will not house administrative space or several collections (World Languages Collection, Media Collection, Teen Center, and Centralized Children's Room) that have been moved to more appropriate and convenient locations for the public. The public space available at 53 Street for the services being offered is virtually identical to the space available at the Donnell. The temporary Grand Central Library will remain in operation until the new 53rd Street branch opens.

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