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Foster + Partners Selected as Architects for New Central Library in The New York Public Library's Historic Fifth Avenue Building

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New York, NY, October 23, 2008 – Foster + Partners, the acclaimed international architecture firm, has been selected to create the design to transform The New York Public Library's building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street into the world’s largest comprehensive library open to the public.

Great Court of the British Museum. Design by Foster + Partners.Great Court of the British Museum. Design by Foster + Partners.New York, NY, October 23, 2008 – Foster + Partners, the acclaimed international architecture firm, has been selected to create the design to transform The New York Public Library's building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street into the world’s largest comprehensive library open to the public.

The new central library will serve users of all ages and will feature expansive new reading rooms with open shelf circulating collections overlooking Bryant Park. After nearly 40 years in which it has served exclusively as a research library, the historic building will feature extensive circulating collections, including those moved from the nearby Mid-Manhattan Branch.

The creation of the central library is the centerpiece of a $1 billion plan announced in March to transform the entire New York Public Library system. Foster + Partners was chosen by a special committee of the Library's Board of Trustees, which considered more than thirty firms before reaching its final selection. Designs for the project are expected to be completed over a two-year period.

“Norman Foster’s understanding of the Library, his personal enthusiasm for the project, the professionalism of his team and the portfolio of striking and innovative designs he has created around the world convinced us that Foster + Partners is exactly the right firm to help us create a new central library for New York City,” said Library President Paul LeClerc. “We were particularly impressed by the work he has completed in other historic buildings where he has been sensitive to tradition while finding brilliant, unexpected ways to use space and unite old and new.”

“The New York Public Library is a magnificent building with a powerful civic presence, both locally and internationally,” said Lord Foster. “Significantly, it is also the flagship of a network of 89 community libraries throughout Manhattan, and its cultural and intellectual range is extraordinary.

 

The New York Public Library's Central Library
The historic library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street opened in 1911 as a grand symbol of the City’s commitment to culture and knowledge. It currently houses the Library’s renowned research collections in Humanities and Social Sciences, including millions of volumes of general reference material as well as unique archives and rare special collections.

The general research collection will be moved from the original 1911 stacks in the main building to the Library’s existing reservoir of high-density shelving beneath Bryant Park. This will enable vast spaces that were formerly inaccessible to the public to be used to create a multi-level, light-filled new library that overlooks the park. The integration of research and lending resources under one roof will allow the library to serve a diverse range of users, including young children, students, scholars, writers, entrepreneurs, and casual readers, among many others. The Library will also offer improved exhibition spaces, hundreds of computers and full wireless access, meeting rooms, program venues, and a café. The creation of the new Central Library is expected to result in a threefold increase in use of the building, to an estimated 3.5 million visitors annually.

 

About Foster + Partners
Foster + Partners,one of the mostinnovative architectural practices in the world today, is based in London with project offices worldwide. Over the past four decades the practice has pioneered a sustainable approach to architecture and ecology through a strikingly wide range of work, from urban masterplans, public infrastructure, airports, civic and cultural buildings, offices and workplaces to private houses and product design. The UK-based studio has established an international reputation with buildings such as Hearst’s Headquarters in New York, the world’s largest airport terminal at Beijing, Swiss Re’s London Headquarters, Millau Viaduct in France, the German Parliament in the Reichstag, Berlin, The Great Court at London’s British Museum, Headquarters’ for HSBC in Hong Kong and London, and Commerzbank Headquarters in Frankfurt. There is also a strong interest in city planning and infrastructure. The practice has received over 500 awards for excellence and won 86 national and international competitions since its inception in 1967. In 1999 the firm's chairman, Norman Foster, was awarded the Pritzker Prize—architecture's highest honor. He was appointed to the Order of Merit by the Queen in 1997 and in 1999 he was honored with a life peerage, taking the title Lord Foster of Thames Bank.


About The New York Public Library
The New York Public Library was created in 1895 with the consolidation of the private libraries of John Jacob Astor and James Lenox with Samuel Jones Tilden Trust. The Library provides free open access to its physical and electronic collections and information, as well as to its services. It comprises four research centers – the Humanities and Social Science Library; The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; and the Science, Industry and Business Library – and 87 Branch Libraries in Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx. Research and circulating collections combined total more than 50 million items, including materials for the visually impaired. In addition, each year the Library presents thousands of exhibitions and public programs, which include classes in technology, literacy, and English as a second language. The Library serves some 16 million patrons who come through its doors annually and another 25 million users internationally, who access collections and services through the NYPL website, www.nypl.org.


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