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A Glowing Shrine to the Printed Word

The New York Times – “A mighty wall of books impresses in the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library, a transformed branch that bursts with new services and technology… That’s why the Stavros Niarchos now delights book obsessives but also offers lines of computers atop long tables and a dizzying array of technology training, career exploration, life-skills help, and personal enrichment in its 180,000 square feet. [New York Public Library system President Anthony W. Marx] called this “a more proactive model of the library” on a recent walk-through. The Stavros Niarchos has risen from the ashes of a much grander $300-million plan in 2012 by the London architect Norman Foster to bring the circulating library into the main library, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, diagonally across Fifth Avenue, and sell off the Mid-Manhattan building. Foster would have emptied a dense network of stacks in the flagship and carved out a grand atrium uniting the circulating collections with elaborate stairways. Inconveniently, the stacks also held up parts of the building and the cost to intricately insert replacement supports, as well as researchers’ vehement resistance to moving most of the material in the stacks offsite — and blowback by critics — caused the plan to implode in 2014. Marx, who fought tenaciously for the Foster plan, now professes approval for the decision to renovate rather than replace the Mid-Manhattan. The two libraries work together, he said. The main library remains devoted to on-site research, while visitors seeking less rarefied materials can find them shelved in the Stavros Niarchos…”

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