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NYU Bobst Library to Begin Renovation in May; “Phase II” will Transform Floors Four and Five into a 21st Century Research Commons

March 29, 2010
N-335, 2009-10

"Phase II” will Transform Floors Four and Five into a 21st Century Research Commons

A new phase of renovation for the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library at New York University will transform floors four and five into a research commons for 21st century scholarship.  This renovation is to begin immediately after Commencement in May 2010.  Work is scheduled for completion in November 2010.  For the latest updates, quick facts, and to provide feedback, please visit the Bobst Library renovation website

“The work styles that stem from dependence on digital content and online modes of work are at the center of the new research commons," said Carol A. Mandel, Dean of the Division of Libraries at NYU.  "It will feature flexible, multi-purpose spaces and configurations meant to enhance and enrich research quality and productivity."

The project is being supported in significant part with a gift of $10 million from the Elmer and Mamdouha Bobst Foundation.  The gift, combined with a number of smaller gifts, contributions from the Friends of Bobst Library (a membership group), and a major investment from NYU, will enable Phase II to continue the transformation of the flagship library begun with the Phase I renovation of the main floor and two lower levels, completed in 2004.  Phase II, as with Phase I, was designed and will be overseen by the architectural firm Alspector Architecture.

"The Bobst Foundation gift and the project it supports give us the opportunity to reinterpret the concepts of research and reading as 21st century terms,” said Dean Mandel.

The overarching goal of Phase II is to give NYU students and faculty a library experience that enhances and enriches the quality and productivity of their research, learning and teaching.  To that end, the library conducted original research and consulted additional studies that explore in depth how library space and service configuration match user needs.  In response, the library shaped a renovation program with the following objectives:

  • Restore the best aspects of architect Philip Johnson’s late 1960's design to provide visually attractive and stimulating spaces, especially views and natural light, amid open stacks.
  • Create a range and mix of reader spaces that foster quiet individual work; group study; collaborative work; and efficient use of technology.
  • Situate staff and services for optimal interaction with readers, and for staff effectiveness.
  • Enable efficient way-finding and reader self-sufficiency.
  • Improve lighting, acoustics, HVAC, access to electrical outlets, furnishings and traffic patterns to maximize reader comfort and productivity.

A number of specialized library services will be consolidated into a facility on the fifth floor, including the Digital Studio (digitization, media publication, digital file storage and management, and other projects), the Data Service Studio (for statistical computing, data collection and management, GIS mapping, and other projects). Librarians and specialized staff and resources will support research in science, health professions, business, statistics and public policy.  The floor will feature seating that ranges from open, technology supported collaborative spaces to quiet, limited access "writers' rooms."

The fourth floor will introduce a new model for the library's stacks floors, enhanced by such features as more natural light, comfortable and varied seating arranged in nooks and other definable areas among the bookshelves, new lighting and improved acoustics. The North Reading Room, in which windows two stories high look out over Washington Square Park, will be completely refurnished with new, power-equipped tables, lighting, acoustical treatments and seating.

Until Bobst Library opened in 1973, built with a major gift from Mr. and Mrs. Bobst, NYU did not have a central library.  Johnson designed Bobst Library to be an iconic building meant to express the University’s academic vision. He planned the library with an expectation of two million book volumes; today  its collections comprise four million volumes.  Also in Bobst Library are the Avery Fisher Center for Music and Media, with more than 100,000 sound and video recordings in multiple formats, and two internationally known special collections: the Tamiment Library and the Fales Library, which together hold more than 27,000 linear feet of archives as well as extensive collections of film, photographs and other media.

During the renovation, books currently on the 4th and 5th floors will be moved to other floors in the library, including the atrium.  Throughout the project, the library's online catalog, along with signage and other aids, will ensure that readers have no trouble finding the books and they need.

The new project is Phase II of a multi-phased renovation that will, over the long term and as funding allows, gradually update the entire library. 


This Press Release is in the following Topics:
Division of Libraries, Planning & Construction

Type: Press Release

Press Contact: Christopher James | (212) 998-6876

NYU Bobst Library to Begin Renovation in May

Sneak Peek of Floors 4&5

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