Sunday, August 22, 2010

Library Under the Lawn

This post also appears on the Bryant Park blog. All photos, Bryant Park Corporation. 

In 1983 the Bryant Park Corporation retained landscape architecture firm Hanna / Olin Ltd., now The Olin Studio, for the re-design of Bryant Park. Over the next several years, plans were drafted and the park began its transition into a beautiful, well used public space.

Concurrent with Bryant Park’s facelift, the New York Public Library embarked on a large construction project of its own: the addition of 120,000 square feet of library stacks beneath the surface of the Bryant Park lawn.

The excavation for the two story stacks began in July 1988, with Tishman Realty & Construction Co., Ltd. managing construction.

Requiring a 30 foot excavation in the center of the park, the finished stacks accommodate up to 3.2 million books and 500,000 reels of microfilm, doubling the library’s storage capacity.  The stacks are connected to the main library by a 62 foot long tunnel. Additionally, there is a fire escape on the west side of the Bryant Park lawn, disguised by a dedication plaque.

The stacks took less than a year to complete, and the lawn was seeded, and in place by September 15, 1989. The park partially reopened to the public in spring of 1990.

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