Preservation Issues

Conservancy Testifies In Favor of Public Library Plans

-NYPL 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue

February 19, 2019
Midtown Manhattan

The Conservancy supported a plan from the New York Public Library to improve outdoor spaces at the main branch on Fifth Avenue. All of the alterations will be along 40th Street.

We found that each aspect of the proposal will improve the public’s ability to use and enjoy this building, without significant changes. Plans to reset and regrade a section of the existing Fifth Avenue plaza will reuse existing materials and enhance accessibility. The design of a new terrace takes inspiration from the landmark building in configuration, materials, and detailing, yet is fully contemporary and does not copy the historic structure or pretend that it is from the early 20th century. Improvements to the loading dock will ease entry and limit potential damage caused by trucks navigating the existing narrow opening. Even the dock’s mundane doors will see a respectful upgrade.

The New York Public Library is one of the City’s and perhaps the country’s most significant landmarks. Therefore, any alteration, no matter the scope, is to be taken with extreme care and caution. We believe that this proposal accepts that responsibility and bears it well. Overall, this set of alterations will achieve much, yet leave a very light footprint.

The Commissioners asked the project team to come back to a hearing with some revisions to the design. The date has not been set.