MARCH 3 – The New York Public Library (NYPL) is reopening its Washington Heights branch on March 3 following an extensive renovation of the 100-year-old Carnegie library - offering users a branch that features expanded public space, modern amenities and better accessibility for patrons with a new ADA elevator, LULA lift and exterior ramp. The completion of the renovation nearly coincides with the Library’s centennial anniversary on February 26.
The 17,000 square foot branch at 1000 St. Nicholas Avenue will officially open with a public ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 3 with community leaders and library staff. Residents and students from nearby schools are also invited to participate in the day-long festivities, which include programs throughout the day for all ages and a birthday cake to celebrate the Library’s 100th birthday the week before.
“It is fitting that today we celebrate both the centennial and renovation of the Washington Heights Library – honoring the past, present, and future of a branch that represents the wealth of services that libraries have and will continue to offer,” says NYPL President Tony Marx. “For over 100 years the Washington Heights branch has been a beloved community institution, one where students learn, friends gather, and books inspire. I thank our users for their patience as we worked on the branch and I am proud to present them with their beautiful library, equipped to support the community for years to come.”
The renovated Washington Heights Library features a redesign of one of the largest children’s floors in the NYPL system – now an open, light-filled space that includes children’s materials (books, CDs, and DVDs), as well as an area for programming. The improved first floor accommodates adult and teen users, while the lower level houses an updated community room and a new lab for technology workshops, which was converted from former administrative space.
The branch will have 25 PCs, 16 laptops and 24 Mac computers available to the public, more than tripling the number of computers the branch had previously. All three renovated floors have touch screens that can be used for programs.
The $12.4 million project covered more than 12,000 square feet of space in the branch and was constructed in two stages. The City’s Department of Design and Construction managed infrastructure upgrades, such as the installation of a LULA lift and exterior ramp for access to the first floor, in addition to HVAC and fire safety upgrades. The Library then renovated three floors of the 17,000 square foot building. Dattner Architects worked on the system upgrades to the building and the renovation of the first floor and lower level, in addition to installing the new ADA elevator. Andrew Berman Architect was responsible for the redesign of the second floor childrens room.
Originally an independent neighborhood library, the Washington Heights branch joined NYPL in 1901 and moved into its current building, which was designed by Carrere and Hastings, in February of 1914.
The Library is deeply grateful to Mayor Bill de Blasio; City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito; City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; United States Congressman Charles B. Rangel; New York State Senator Bill Perkins; New York State Assemblymember Gabriela Rosa; former Mayor Michael Bloomberg; former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn; former Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, former City Council Member Robert Jackson; the New York City Department of Design and Construction; The Starr Foundation; Cordelia Corporation; and an Anonymous Donor.
“Three cheers for libraries! Public libraries are a vital community resource, and it is thrilling that the Washington Heights branch is now re-opening. Libraries are great for kids, seniors, and everyone in between,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
"The Washington Heights Public Library has served the community well for a hundred years, and with the new renovations, is better equipped to provide valuable service for many more years to come. Libraries strengthen communities and provide a safe learning environment for our youth. I encourage everyone to make frequent use of this place that was built to enrich our lives,” said Congressman Charles B. Rangel
“Today—our students and seniors, our children and families—will rush through the doors of the Washington Heights Library in search of the vast trove of knowledge, programs and enriching services that are once again at their fingertips. I am very pleased that the critical renovations are finally complete at this treasured community enclave and particularly heartened that our library now has additional technological capacity to meet the interconnected needs of our shared constituents,” said Senator Bill Perkins.
“We were delighted to help renovate the Washington Heights Library by providing barrier-free access and a new heating, cooling, and ventilation system. We congratulate our partners at the New York Public Library on the reopening of the Washington Heights branch – may it serve the public well for another hundred years,” said David A. Resnick, AIA, Acting Commissioner of the New York City Department of Design and Construction.
“We were pleased to be able to transform this historic library building with a new open, modern interior offering the community cheerful welcoming spaces for the continuing pursuit of knowledge…well into the future,” Joseph Coppola AIA, Principal, Dattner Architects.
“The Washington Heights Library will now enter its next Century serving the Upper Manhattan community—transformed from a traditional repository of reading material to a vital community center, digital portal, and multi-cultural resource,” Richard Dattner FAIA, Principal, Dattner Architects.
“Each building in New York City has its own personality. The Washington Heights branch library projects a dignified and respectable presence, calm and aspirational at the same time. In designing the children's library for Washington Heights we sought to create a warm, comfortable, and surprising world within the branch for all the children of the neighborhood. It is my highest reward as an architect to design for an institution such as the NYPL, and to see our work well used by its young patrons for years to come,” said Andrew Berman of Andrew Berman Architect.
The Washington Heights Library will be open: Monday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday, 11 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
About The New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library serves more than 18 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at www.nypl.org. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support.