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Step Back in Time with the New York Public Library's "OldNYC" Archive Project

Discover historic New York with "OldNYC," a digital archive of the New York Public Library's "Photographic Views of New York City, 1870s-1970s" Collection. Bringing together an extensive catalogue of images from the library's Milstein Collection, OldNYC organizes photographs geographically, allowing users to view images specific to individual blocks and streets.

The project is also collaborative, asking visitors on the site to comment on photographs with "what's there now, what's changed, and what's stayed the same." Users can edit or add to captions on the back of each of the photos, creating a personal element in the latest retelling of New York's vibrant history.

Learn more about the project and view selected images after the break.

"Bridges - Brooklyn Bridge - Manhattan Bridge - [New York Steam Corporation.]", Percy Loomis Sperr (1934). Image Courtesy of The New York Public Library http://www.oldnyc.org/ "Celebrations - Parades - Municipal events - The Victory Arch.", Unknown (1918). Image Courtesy of The New York Public Library http://www.oldnyc.org/ "Manhattan: 6th Avenue - 42nd Street (West)", Unknown (1939). Image Courtesy of The New York Public Library http://www.oldnyc.org/ "Manhattan: 5th Avenue - 46th Street", Unknown (1931). Image Courtesy of The New York Public Library http://www.oldnyc.org/

Michael Kimmelman Discusses The Importance Of Advocacy In Architectural Criticism

In an interview with Erika Allen for The New York Times, Michael Kimmelman discusses "architecture criticism and the dangers of demolition." Kimmelman, the NYT's architecture critic, has built a reputation as someone who advocates for buildings under threat, his most well known "fight" being against renovation plans drawn up by Foster + Partners for the New York Public Library in Manhattan. Referencing his latest column, in which he shows support for the threatened Orange County Government Centre, Kimmelman elaborates on his critical position and why he believes that speaking out for buildings at risk is "necessary."

Revised Renovation Plan Released for New York Public Library

Details have been released on the New York Public Library’s (NYPL) plan to renovate its Mid-Manhattan branch, while creating more public space within its flagship Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. The news comes shortly after Foster + Partner’s redesign of the the Beaux-Arts landmark was scrapped due to concerns of a ballooning budget. The revised $300 million overhaul suggests a more affordable option of relocating Schwarzman’s main stacks beneath Bryant Park, while establishing a more campus-like connection with a fully renovated Mid-Manhattan branch. All the details, here

New York Public Library Scraps Foster-Designed Renovation Plans

The New York 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 + Partners' New York Public Library Redesign in State of Limbo

Foster + Partner's controversial renovation plans for the New York Public Library (NYPL) are currently in a state of limbo while the city decides their course of action. Foster's proposal for the 20th century Carrère and Hastings "masterpiece" on 5th Avenue is a response to the cultural shift from traditional stacks to online resources, as the library has experienced a 41% decrease in the use of collections over the last 15 years. 

Supertall, Supergreen - Architectural Explorations in Books Series Event

Join architectural historian Judith Dupré and renowned architects Adrian Smith and Rick Cook to explore the latest environmental innovations in skyscrapers. The look of cities is changing as designers and builders realize that the best tall buildings arise from working, as the ancients did, hand in hand with nature. Tapping into the elemental forces of the sun, wind, and water, today’s green skyscrapers are pushing the extreme frontiers of environmental, structural, and creative possibility. That sensibility is also strengthening bonds between architects and engineers who, more than ever, are joining forces to find aesthetically pleasing, environmentally astute solutions.

Foster Responds to Kimmelman’s “Offensive” Diatribe Regarding the New York Public Library

The New York Public Library’s (NYPL) main building on Fifth Avenue, is a Beaux-Arts masterpiece designed by architects Carrère & Hastings. Image via Flickr User CC wallyg.
The New York Public Library’s (NYPL) main building on Fifth Avenue, is a Beaux-Arts masterpiece designed by architects Carrère & Hastings. Image via Flickr User CC wallyg.

When applying “major surgery” to a beloved, 20th century “masterpiece”, you’re going to face some harsh criticism. Such is the case for Norman Foster, as the legendary British architect has been receiving intense backlash from New York’s toughest critics for his proposed renovation to the New York Public Library. First, the late Ada Louise Huxtable exclaimed, “You don’t “update” a masterpiece.” Now, the New York Time’s architecture critic Michael Kimmelman claims the design is “not worthy” of Foster and believes the rising budget to be suspect. 

More on Kimmelman's critique and Foster’s response after the break...

Foster's Design for the New York Public Library Unveiled

The New York Public Library’s (NYPL) main building on Fifth Avenue, is a Beaux-Arts masterpiece designed by architects Carrère & Hastings. Image via Flickr User CC wallyg.
The New York Public Library’s (NYPL) main building on Fifth Avenue, is a Beaux-Arts masterpiece designed by architects Carrère & Hastings. Image via Flickr User CC wallyg.

The New York Public Library (NYPL) has unveiled the details of their controversial plan to renovate the 20th century, Carrère and Hastings “masterpiece” on 5th Avenue. Designed Foster + Partners, the $300 million dollar proposal is a response to the cultural shift from traditional stacks to online resources, as the library has experienced a 41% decrease in the use of collections over the last 15 years. Sensitive to concerned critics, the renovation promises to preserve the building’s legacy as it integrates a new, state-of-the-art Circulating Library into its flagship Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street. Foster’s “library within a library” will transform seven floors of stacks, currently occupying the back of the building, into an aesthetically, technologically and environmentally advanced public space that meets the needs of our 21st century society. “We need to be respectful of the beloved, iconic building and to create a new inspiring space,” Anthony W. Marx, the library’s president, said in an interview with the New York Times. “At a time when people wonder about the future of libraries, we’re going to create the greatest library the world has ever seen.” Learn all the details and see the renderings after the break…

Alda Louis Huxtable Takes On The New York Public Library

The New York Public Library's (NYPL) main building on Fifth Avenue, is a Beaux-Arts masterpiece designed by architects Carrère & Hastings. Image via Flickr User CC wallyg.
The New York Public Library's (NYPL) main building on Fifth Avenue, is a Beaux-Arts masterpiece designed by architects Carrère & Hastings. Image via Flickr User CC wallyg.

The New York Public Library has a plan to save millions of dollars, improve efficiency, and reverse the cutbacks that have been plaguing it. How? By sending little-used resources off-site (after all, most people use the library for its online resources these days), the Library will consolidate three libraries into one Mid-Manhattan branch, renovating the building with a streamlined, efficient design - courtesy of Foster + Partners - to create "the largest combined research and circulating library in the country."

It sounds like a wonderful, modern solution. Ms. Alda Louis Huxtable would beg to differ.

The former New York Times architecture critic and current critic for the Wall Street Journal has come out swinging against the plan. First, she builds on the critique that others have made, that by moving volumes off-site (to New Jersey, or "Siberia, as she puts it) to make room for more modern amenities, the library will devalue its primary purpose (making resources readily accessible). To put it another way, as Scott Sherman did in his article for The Nation, it would turn the library into “a glorified internet café.” Then, Huxtable makes her own argument: that removing the current, intricate system of stacks would be an enormously complex, expensive, and hopelessly misguided structural challenge.

But, ultimately Ms. Huxtable’s argument comes down to the intrinsic architectural and cultural value of this Beaux Arts Masterpiece: “You don't "update" a masterpiece.” 

More on the Ms. Huxtable incendiary critique of The New York Public Library’s Central Plan, after the break...