NEW YORK – Building on its long-standing commitment to libraries worldwide and to The New York Public Library in particular, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) is partnering with The New York Public Library and the City of New York to support the complete renovation of the system’s largest circulating branch, Mid-Manhattan Library.
The Foundation’s transformational $55 million gift will support the creation of a modern, central branch to hold the Library’s largest circulating collection and offer countless programs for children, teens, and adults. In addition, it will help establish an inspiring “Midtown campus” that will reconnect the circulating library with the Library’s iconic research center, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, across Fifth Avenue, creating a free, open destination for thought and ideas in the center of Midtown. The gift also establishes an endowment for programming at the renovated library.
The New York Times reported on the historic gift, announced on September 13, noting that the “100,000 square-foot renovated circulating library, designed by the lesser-known Dutch firm Mecanoo, will not be without eye-catching design features, including what the library describes as the only free, publicly accessible roof terrace in Midtown.” The SNF gift is the second-largest in the Library’s history, as the Times reported, after the $100 million donated in 2008 by Stephen A. Schwartzman for the iconic Fifth Avenue Beaux-Arts building just across from the Mid-Manhattan branch.
The Mid-Manhattan Library renovation is expected to be complete in 2020, when the building will reopen as The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL), a testament to the importance of this gift as well as the Foundation’s extensive previous support. In total, the Foundation has supported the Library with grants of over $60 million. The Library’s Board of Trustees Executive Committee approved the renaming at a recent meeting, and it was announced at the full Board of Trustees meeting this evening.
The gift is the second largest individual gift in the history of the Library, and contributed to a record year of private fundraising: in Fiscal Year 2017, the Library raised $133.38 million in new major gift commitments, more than in any other year in its history.
“This gift is a culmination of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s long-standing and unwavering commitment to libraries around the globe,” said Library President Tony Marx. “We are so appreciative of the Foundation’s generosity, vision, and support as we transform our largest central branch into the library New Yorkers deserve and have never had. The project—also supported by our partners in New York City government—will allow for more use and a better flow of ideas and learning back and forth across Fifth Avenue.”
“With over 21 years of global grant-making history, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation has committed significant resources towards supporting public institutions across each of its four main programmatic areas. Public libraries are paradigmatic public institutions offering communities an array of critical services that extend far beyond the lending of books. The varied roles of public libraries place them, more than ever before, at the heart of our civic societies, at a time when many had been predicting their demise,” said Andreas Dracopoulos, Co-President of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. “We are very proud of this new partnership with NYPL, which continues a long and impactful collaboration. Our shared vision is that this landmark gift will not only transform one of the city’s most democratic and accessible spaces, Mid-Manhattan’s central circulating branch, but will also create a hub of knowledge, creativity, and innovation in the center of one of the world’s greatest cities.”
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) is one of the world’s leading private, international philanthropic organizations, making grants in the areas of arts and culture, education, health and sports, and social welfare. The SNF has a long-established relationship with The New York Public Library, supporting educational programs and exhibitions that make the work and collections of the Library more accessible to all. In that vein, the SNF is currently working closely with NYPL and the Revson Foundation on a program to make one-day passes to cultural institutions available for checkout in branches across all three New York City library systems.
The SNF has also shown unwavering commitment to libraries around the world, supporting, among other projects, the construction of the new facilities for the National Library of Greece at The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) in Athens, designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop.
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL) will have a dramatic, three-story atrium facing a five-story Long Room of book stacks; a business library occupying a full floor and an adjacent floor providing job-search help and an employment skills center; a full floor dedicated to separate libraries for children and teens; one of the only free public roof terraces in Midtown; and hundreds more seats than the current branch. The design of the Library’s Midtown renovation is from the Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo, known for its visionary approach to libraries, with New York City-based firm Beyer Blinder Belle, a renowned expert in historical renovations.
The $200 million renovation is being funded with $151 million in City capital funds, as well as the generous private gift from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
Key elements of the new 100,000-square-foot library will include:
· Capacity for approximately 400,000 books and other materials, the largest capacity for circulating materials in the Library system.
· A “Long Room”—the largest element in the new branch—offering five floors of open, browsable book stacks and two floors of meeting rooms
· One of the only rooftop terraces in Midtown that will be free and open to the public
· A dedicated business library occupying an entire floor and offering the services and circulating collections of the Science, Industry and Business Library
· An adult learning center—one of the largest in the city—which will provide a seamless continuum of educational opportunities
· A floor of separate spaces for kids and for teens
· Approximately 17,000 square feet of general reading and study space, including seating for almost 1,500 library patrons
· Over 11,000 square feet of multipurpose space that can be used for classes, events, one-on-one consultations, seminars, and a host of other programs
The renovated branch will also be a central part of the Library’s plan to create a world-class learning center in the middle of Midtown, uniting in one central campus the Library’s full spectrum of resources—from the Library’s renowned historical collections cherished by scholars from around the world to our much-needed circulating materials, programs, and events for all ages.
The renovation is essential for the Mid-Manhattan branch, which opened in the 1970s in a space originally designed as a department store. The branch receives approximately 1.7 million visits annually and circulates approximately 2 million items each year, making it one of the busiest circulating libraries in the country.
Planning for the Mid-Manhattan renovation began in fall 2015 with the selection of the design team following more than a year of discussion and input led by librarians and informed by expert and public feedback. Preliminary designs were released in the fall of 2016. Mid-Manhattan Library closed on August 1, 2017, so construction could begin. The target date for completion is early 2020.
More information on the project is available at nypl.org/midtown.