YIMBY took a look inside the recently opened Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL), which is located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 40th Street across from Bryant Park and the main New York Public Library building. The renovation was made possible thanks to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, which contributed $55 million along with support from the City of New York. The building was once home to the Mid-Manhattan Library in the 1970s, and before that, the Arnold Constable Company. The 180,000-square-foot facility opened to the public on June 1 at a cost of $200 million and includes eight levels with soaring atrium spaces, wide walkways, easy circulation, bright interiors, and an outdoor rooftop terrace that overlooks the surrounding Midtown, Manhattan neighborhood. Interiors were done by Dutch architect Francine Houben of Mecanoo Architects and Beyer Blinder Belle.
The directory is divided into the following: children’s and young adult fiction and nonfiction with a teen recording studio, media lab, study rooms, youth program rooms, reading nooks specifically designed as quiet spaces for children with unique needs, and a book sorter with a visible conveyor belt that allows kids to see the return process on the lower level; new books, periodicals, newspapers, DVDs, CDs, and audiobooks on the ground floor; fiction, education, fashion, language, science, health, cooking, art, computers, philosophy, religion, social sciences, politics, and law on level two; science fiction and fantasy, mystery, urban, romance, graphic novels, geography, history, travel, art, and architecture on level three; world languages reference, history, and biography on level four; the 21,000-square-foot Thomas Yoseloff Business Center with personal finance and investing, small business research and Bloomberg terminals on level five; career services, English language and literacy, the 20,000-square-foot Pasculano Learning Center with media and technology training on level six; and finally, an event center, library cafe, and the only free publicly and ADA-accessible rooftop terrace in Midtown with seating, ramps, and landscaping on level seven.
Work on the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library began in 2017 with Tishman Construction in charge. One of the earliest steps was the temporary relocation of the collections and services into part of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. From there, the preservation of the historic stone exterior and a major gutting of the interiors commenced. Portions of the floor slabs were cut in order to make way for the multi-story atrium for the Long Room, along with a couple of other smaller cutouts on the lower floors to bring in natural light below street level, and the sloped geometrical structural addition atop the formerly unused roof with the accompanying landscaped public terrace.
The library was finished and completed on schedule and on budget last year, but the opening was delayed due to the pandemic. A grab-and-go checkout setup was done last summer, followed by an appointment-only setup to visit the library this past spring. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library is now fully open and will serve as a timeless architecturally and historically restored gem and a valuable resource for the public and future generations to enjoy in the heart of New York City.
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library is closed on Sunday, open from 10am to 8pm from Monday through Thursday, and open from 10am to 6pm from Friday to Saturday.