Before we get back to our regular programming next week, I thought I might catch up with a few interesting tidbits I’ve come across in my news reading over the holidays. If you’re a new reader, you might not catch this reference, but if you’ve been around for a while, you should. I was reading Ada Louise Huxtable’s piece “Undertaking Its Destruction” in the Wall Street Journal about the controversy over proposed changes to the New York Public Library (1911, Carriere & Hastings). This is the library with the lions in front of it seen in many movies set in NYC, including Day After Tomorrow, where the survivors of the environmental apocalypse take refuge from the tsunami and resort to burning books to stay warm :-(
Anyway, it seems that as part of the modernization plan, the library leadership plans to gut the stacks which run for seven stories below the reading room, actually forming part of the structural system (you can see a video tour here). Ada Louise, amongst others, is not happy about this, and in her piece she gives some of the history of the unique stack design:
The stacks are an engineering landmark, but they cannot be designated because they are not open to the public. Incredibly, the Rose Reading Room has not been designated either, although it is eligible. Landmark protection covers the building’s exterior and entrance and exhibition hall.
Bernard Green, who devised the system for the Library of Congress that was built a few years earlier than the New York Public Library, was hired as the engineering consultant for the New York stacks.
Did you catch it? If not, read the series “From the Archives: Critiquing the New Capitol Designs (1900)“, and you’ll see what got me so excited and how our State Capitol has a direct connection to the venerable New York Public Library.
According to a more recent New York Times story, this project is a done-deal, with the drawings unveiled before Christmas.
“A Tour of the Stacks” by New York Public Library