New York Public Library Flagship Branch Is Getting A Makeover

The iconic New York Public Library located at 42nd St. and 5th Avenue is getting some work done. And not just a few little nips and tucks — a full-fledged makeover.

Today, Public Library President Tony Marx presented details of the highly contested plan to turn the central branch from a closed-off scholarly monastery into a true public library with light-filled reading areas, views of Bryant Park and even the Internet. “People need the view,” Marx said. “And they need a better library.”

The redesign will double the amount of public space in the library, reports the New York Daily News. Currently, only 30 percent of the building is open to the public, but that will rise to 70 percent once 3 million books are relocated to new stacks under Bryant Park.

Still, some Manhattanites fear that the magnificent Rose Main Reading Room will be turned into a glorified Starbucks under the new plan, designed by world-renowned architect Norman Foster. “Scholars are people, too, and we are beginning to feel, well, if not threatened, increasingly crowded out,” biographer Edmund Morris wrote in the New York Times. Architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable added, “You don’t ‘update’ a masterpiece.”

Despite the opposition, lead designer Nigel Dancey says that Foster’s light and contemporary design is “very sensitive” to the magisterial Carrère and Hastings palace of learning. “None of the key spaces are being changed,” she explained, adding that the architect only plans to add “a series of very wonderful” spaces from areas currently inaccessible to the public. The library will also extend its hours until 11 p.m. on most nights.

Check out the images from the blueprint below!