Why New Yorkers Must Reject the CLP

January 2, 2013

After months of controversy, the Central Library Plan will be presented to the public during a few rather closeted meetings this month. Here are some reasons why New Yorkers must fight this sham and stop the NYPL board from eviscerating one of the city’s most cherished public buildings.

  • The Foster design is simply not good enough. It has all the distinction and architectural panache of a run of the mill airport lobby.
  • The architect and the library board are deluding the public with their presentation of the current design, and lying about its funding. Light levels are lower than shown, there is no provision for book transport from underground storage rooms, and the views of Bryant Park will be blocked by restaurant service zones. Moreover, the critics cannot have access to full plans or details about the cost of construction, so there may be even more faults in the design.
  • The NYPL board has conducted its business and made its decisions on this plan with virtually no public input or open discourse about its merits. Only when confronted by scholars and preservationists did it even agree to hold meetings to review the CPL.
  • The city is wasting millions in taxpayer dollars on what will prove to be a spectacular failure. The new “circulating” library will not attract more patrons, will not provide better space for reading and study, and will not even improve on the technology of the existing Mid-Manhattan branch.
  • All of the reasons for destroying the stacks, moving millions of books, selling two library buildings, and constructing a new facility in the Schwartzman Building are based on false premises that seem to change with each public communication from Tony Marx. Why should New Yorkers believe anything he says?
  • Most importantly, the Carrere and Hastings masterpiece that has served the city for more than a century must be preserved as a whole ensemble, not a series of set pieces, each with its own named patron or donor.
  • The stacks are an engineering marvel and a historic landmark that is more than worth its own preservation effort. All those who love historic buildings should decry their destruction, especially for such venal ends.

2 Responses to “Why New Yorkers Must Reject the CLP”

  1. “Run of the mill airport” indeed. It’s certainly not what one might hope for from the architect of Stansted! It’s hard to see how the NYPL trustees and administration could be getting this more wrong, from *any* perspective. One senses a fatal vacillation at the client level. They seem scared witless even as they proclaim their determination to hold indefensible ground. Where is their sense of stewardship? This project should be abandoned before they do irreversible damage to a global cultural asset.

  2. Mark: Right on. I think that Marx and Foster argued about this before going public, and that the architect isn’t proud of what he had to present. We’ve done some analysis that will show how the numbers do not add up.

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