Located on Fifth Avenue, the new Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL) by Mecanoo and Beyer Blinder Belle offers a new-generation library to New York City. It is located directly across from the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (SASB), the famed Beaux-Art style building that opened in 1911 and received today over 1.7 million visitors per year.
The new SNFL reflects the harmony between the buildings including long tables that recall the impressive scale of the SASB’s Rose Main Reading Room, ceiling artwork in the Long Room that echoes neo-classical paintings within the SASB’s ceiling, and the use of classic materials such as natural stone, terrazzo and oak.
Offering more space, more books, more seating and shelving, the SNFL has an annual circulation of two million items. The building was originally designed as a department store and retains a dramatic linear atrium that now separates three floors of flexible reading areas with plenty of daylight on one size and five levels of books stacks on the other. This arrangement balances the need for a browsable collection and more public reading room space.
Like the SASB, the new library includes the tradition of Long Room. Above the Long Room, the fifth and sixth floors host the Business Center and Pasculano Learning Center facilities. The seventh, built at the original building’s roof level, is now a new floor with a pitched wood slat ceiling and a flexible 268 occupant conference and event centre. The floor dramatic new roof slopes upward. Its angled pitches and patinated copper-coloured aluminium surface are inspired by Manhattan’s Beaux Art copper-clad mansard roof.
Finally, an L-shaped roof terrace runs above the 40th Street and Fifth Avenue façade with a roof garden and an adjacent outdoor café. Manhattan’s only free, publicly accessible roof terrace, visitors can take in expansive views to Midtown as well as across Fifth Avenue, to the Stephan A. Schwarzman Building.