Newberry Renovation to Transform Library's Main Floor

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New and redesigned spaces will provide visitors with fresh opportunities to interact with Newberry collections and staff.

An architectural rendering envisioning the Newberry's updated lobby.

In January of 2018, the Newberry will embark on a six-month renovation project to transform the 25,000 square feet of its historic main floor, fostering new connections among the library’s visitors, collections, and staff within a few feet of the entrances.

The renovation will result in both redesigned and new spaces, such as an information center where visitors can learn how to use the Newberry’s collection and its many resources; a climate-controlled seminar room allowing classes and other groups to interact directly with collection items and library staff; and a permanent exhibition gallery dedicated to the ongoing display of the Newberry’s collection strengths in books, maps, and manuscripts. Spaces for events and gatherings will be refurbished and renewed, and the Newberry will remain open to the public throughout the renovation.

“We consider ourselves a community of learning that flourishes both within our walls and beyond them. But the Newberry is, first and foremost, a physical space built on bringing our users into direct contact with the legacy of the past and into conversation with one another and our staff,” said Newberry President David Spadafora. “In renovating our first floor, we are not just strengthening this community bond but providing our visitors with new opportunities for engaging with our collections, our staff, and other readers and lifelong learners.”

Widely known for making its world-class collection available to scholars and non-scholars alike, the Newberry is guided by a commitment to facilitating expanded access to library resources whenever possible. The renovation will help the Newberry realize this commitment even more fully by creating a vibrant setting that supports curiosity, channels it in new and potentially unexpected directions, and reflects the ways in which people learn today.

Award-winning Ann Beha Architects (ABA) is designing the renovation and overseeing its implementation. With extensive experience working with libraries, academic institutions, and cultural organizations, ABA is introducing new design elements into the Newberry building while preserving—and, in some cases, restoring—original architectural details.

"Our design celebrates the Newberry's architectural heritage and supports its future vision,” said Ann Beha FAIA, Principal of ABA. “The welcome starts at the door with a new landscape and an accessible entry off of Washington Square Park. Nighttime lighting will make the building more welcoming, and the shop, areas for hospitality, and new guest services will support all visitors."

"The Newberry is simply an incredible place, and an intellectual resource that needs to be discovered by more people,” said Steven Gerrard AIA, LEED GA, Principal of ABA. “This renewal will make the experience of visiting and using the Newberry more welcoming, user-friendly, and engaging."

The renovation will cost an estimated $11 million, 40% of which the Newberry has already secured as part of its fundraising efforts.

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Alex Teller