New York Public Library Scraps Foster-Designed Renovation Plans

renovation scheme. Rendering by dbox. Image Courtesy of

The Public Library (NYPL) has abandoned Norman Foster’s controversial plans to transform part of its 20th century Carrère and Hastings “masterpiece” into a circulating library. The news doesn’t come as much of a surprise, considering the city’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio expressed skepticism towards the $150 million renovation earlier this year. 

According to a report by the New York Times, Blasio does not intend on reducing the NYPL funding, however the money will now be allocated to other purposes. 

Several library trustees have stated that in order to keep up with the cultural shift from traditional stacks to online resources, they now intend on completing the renovation of the library’s mid-Manhattan branch on Fifth Avenue. 

A response from Norman Foster, after the break…

Foster, who respected the trustees’ opinion, told the New York Times: “If I have any kind of sadness on the thing — besides obviously not having the project going ahead and having spent a huge amount of passion on the project with colleagues — it is that the proposals have never been revealed, and there hasn’t really been a debate by those involved, including those who would have benefitted from an inclusive approach to the library.”

Public backlash against the project, as well as fear of a ballooning budget, are all factors that influenced the NYPL’s decision to abandon the Foster + Partners “Central Library Plan.”

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "New York Public Library Scraps Foster-Designed Renovation Plans" 08 May 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • snarkitect

    we seem to be in an unfortunate trend of bad library design. is it that all of the push for open plans and gathering space has led to forgetting the importance of creating intimate spaces for introverted activities? I don’t know, but I completely agreed with the criticism of this project that it looked like a mall food court. I wouldn’t have wanted to read in there.

  • Scott Smith

    I like Foster, I think it’s a great firm. THANK GOD this isn’t happening though, that building is fantastic and shouldn’t be touched.

  • Amanda R

    I agree with Scott, the original building is fantastic and shouldn’t be touched. If you need ‘modern’ library resources then building another library.