CBRE Wins $200M Contract for NY Public Library Revamp

Architecture firms Mecanoo and Beyer Blinder Belle are behind the project design. Upgrades will make way for a five-story wall of book stacks, new meeting rooms, 17,000 square feet of reading and study space and more.
Rendering of New York Public Mid-Manhattan Library
Rendering of New York Public Mid-Manhattan Library

The landmark New York Public Mid-Manhattan Library, a 165,000-square-foot Beaux-Arts structure on Fifth Ave. in Midtown Manhattan, is due for a massive makeover. CBRE, acting as project manager, will oversee the $200 million overhaul.

“CBRE, with its vast experience managing complex projects throughout the city, is an exceptional partner for this project, which is so vital to the Library and the people of New York City,” Iris Weinshall, chief operating officer with the New York Public Library, said in a prepared statement. “Their extensive portfolio of work in the City will ensure New Yorkers receive the library that they have long deserved.”

Architecture company Mecanoo and Beyer Blinder Belle, a firm lauded for its expertise in historical renovations, are behind the project design, which entails the expansion of the property’s public space by 35 percent, allowing for the accommodation of approximately 500,000 books and related materials. Upgrades will make way for a five-story wall of book stacks, meeting rooms, 17,000 square feet of reading and study space, and 11,000 square feet of multipurpose space. Additionally, the NYPL Midtown branch will showcase the only free public roof terrace in New York City.

The end result of the project: a cutting-edge, 21st Century library with all the charm and architectural detail of the original building, which opened in 1914 as a department store and became home to the library in 1970. 


The Mid-Manhattan location isn’t the only public library in the Big Apple sorely in need of upgrades. As revealed in a report released in 2015 by New York City’s three library systems—the NYPL, the Brooklyn Public Library and the Queens Borough Public Library—New York City’s 216-branch library portfolio is facing a $1.1 billion infrastructure crisis. “Today, this $1.1 billion crisis is far from over,” as noted in the library systems’ updated 2017 report. “While much progress has been made across our 216 branches thanks to the leadership of the Mayor and City Council, there is more to be done. From failing building infrastructure to malfunctioning mechanical systems and outdated technology, the list of critical needs in our libraries grows daily.”

The Council of the City of New York reported in March 2017 that there is $382.9 million allotted in the Fiscal 2017-2020 Preliminary Capital Commitment Plan for the NYPL branches, including the Mid-Manhattan branch. The project, bolstered by a $55 million gift from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, follows the $500 million Obama Presidential Center Library on the list of the largest upcoming library construction projects, according to a January 2017 report by construction information and technology solutions provider ConstructConnect.

Photo courtesy of CBRE