The New York Public Library
Image © Max Touhey - NYPL
New York, USA
The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is part of The New York Public Library, which consists of four major research libraries and 88 branch libraries located in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island.
Often referred to as the ‘main branch’, the Beaux-Arts landmark building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street houses outstanding research collections in the humanities and social sciences. Renowned for the extraordinary comprehensiveness of its historical collections as well as its commitment to providing free and equal access to its resources and facilities, it houses some 15 million items. The collections are incredibly varied, including priceless medieval manuscripts, ancient Japanese scrolls, contemporary novels and poetry, as well as baseball cards, dime novels and comic books.
The building is currently under renovation, with a $317-million project developed by Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo and New York-based Beyer Blinder Belle.
The only change to the building's iconic exterior will be an entrance plaza added along 40th Street, complete with a new elevator bank to ease congestion throughout the building. But inside, significant changes are underway.
The new plan will increase the library's public space by roughly 20 percent. Former staff and storage spaces will be transformed into public spaces for research, exhibitions and educational programs, while previously underutilized historic spaces will be outfitted for research and programming. A new Center for Research and Learning, designed to help high school and university students utilize the library, is also part of the plan.
An exciting new feature will be a major permanent exhibition, which is intended to showcase the most significant literary and historical treasures from the Library’s collection. These include items such as a unique copy of the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson himself, George Washington’s handwritten Farewell Address, and a handwritten copy of the Bill of Rights. Also on display will be a host of manuscripts and other works drawn from NYPL’s archives, including those of literary luminaries such as Jack Kerouac, T.S. Eliot and Mark Twain.
For the Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Library’s Treasures in Gottesman Hall, based on the design of Pure+Applied, Goppion engineered, produced and installed 21 conservation-grade display cases. Four of these are huge wall cases, for which Goppion has developed a special rigging plan to carefully move the big glass doors into the building using special tools and cranes.
Large tilt & slide double-doored display cases (4,5 mt width), openable both sides simultaneously, occupy the center of the gallery. All the display cases are equipped with special LED lighting systems, as well as a system of forced air circulation to improve the passive humidity control.
The engineering is extreme due to the dimensions of the cases and the challenging opening system.
This project adds to the wealth of experience acquired by Goppion in the field of installations carried out in some of the world's most prestigious and valuable libraries. Just a few past examples include the showcases for The Bodleian Library in Oxford, UK (2015), for the Book of Kells at Trinity College Old Library in Dublin, Eire, (2020) and, also in New York, for renowned bibliophile haven the Grolier Club (2018).