The landmark NY Public Library at 42nd St. and Fifth Ave. will to be transformed into a state-of-the art computer center. Two to three million books will be sent to off-site storage in NJ. The new space will have room for seminars, adult education, children’s classes and special rooms for writers and scholars. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, architecture historian and critic Ida Louise Huxtable wrote the new space, designed by the British firm of Foster+Partners, will be paid for by the sale of the two other Fifth Ave. public library buildings (the Mid-Manhattan circulating library and the Science, Industry and Business branch), a city contribution of $150 million and private donations.
Huxtable would rather see the NYPL gut the Mid-Manhattan branch across the street than the classical Beaux Arts building. She argues that the move makes the (mostly undigitized) research collection less accessible. Also, the seven floors of research stacks are the structural support of the Rose Reading Room. She wrote, “Restoration and retrofitting would be easier and cheaper than supporting the reading room with the enormously complex and expensive engineering needed during demolition and reconstruction.”