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New York Public Library, - Application for alteration to the interior South Court the main branch of the NYPL at 476 5th Avenue between West 40th and West 42nd Streets adjacent to Bryant Park in Midtown

At the regularly scheduled monthly Community Board Five meeting on Thursday, June 13, 2019, the following resolution passed with a vote of 40 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining:

WHEREAS, The New York Public Library has applied for a certificate of appropriateness to make alterations to the interior South Court of their Stephen Schwarzman Building at 476 5th Avenue, between 40th & 42nd Streets; and

WHEREAS, The Building was built between 1900 and 1911 by architectural firm Carrère & Hastings in what is considered to be one of the city’s finest examples of Beaux Arts construction, and was designated an individual Landmark in January 11, 1967; and the Main Lobby, the North and South Staircases from the 1st to 3rd Floor and the Central Hall on the 3rd Floor an interior landmark in 1974, as well as the interior of the Rose Main Reading Room and Bill Blass Public Catalog Room in 2017; and

WHEREAS, The applicant proposes alterations that are largely confined to the South Court of the Building, which is not an interior landmark, but the façade that used to be part of the exterior envelope is part of the designated landmark; and

WHEREAS, South Court is a six-story infill structure in the open south courtyard of the Center for the Humanities Building, designed by Davis Brody Bond; constructed between 1998 and 2002; and

WHEREAS, The Brody Bond designed South Court uses glass and metal as primary materials and defers in style, size, materials and scale to the original building; and

WHEREAS, The objective of the current application is part of a phased renovation that address programmatic needs; increases public space by creating Exhibition space, modernizes infrastructure, enhances life safety with a new egress stair; and improves vertical circulation with two new public ADA compliant elevators and improves public circulation by creating three new openings in the landmarked South Court original historic facade:

  1. on the 1st floor connecting Gottesman Hall to South Court by converting an existing window into a doorway
  2. on the 1st floor connecting the relocated Library Shop & Café to new elevator lobby by enlarging an existing window into a doorway
  3. and on the mezzanine level connecting existing offices to additional office space by enlarging an existing opening window to a doorway; and

WHEREAS, The proposed design elements, in the east elevation of South Court are modern stainless steel, structurally glazed guard rails and simple white finishes to match the design intent of the 2002 renovation by Davis Brody Bond, as to blend in and not create disparate pieces and parts from different decades; and

WHEREAS, The proposed design elements, in the north elevation of South Court use historic materials, bronze metal and glass door with transom similar to original Gottesman Hall door; and

WHEREAS, The appearance of the new doorways are unified and ADA compliant; and

WHEREAS, All original materials being removed, such as Danby Marble and metal windows will be salvaged and stored on site, and applicant will consider used salvaged bronze frieze in the café or other appropriate public places; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval of the New York Public Library’s application for a certificate of appropriateness for the alteration to the interior South Court of the main branch of the New York Public Library, the Stephen Schwarzman Building, at 476 5th Avenue.

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