The Morgan Library & Museum

New York, NY

Project Details

Completed 2006
70,000 sf

Renzo Piano Building Workshop
with Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners

The new addition is a 70,000-square-foot structure inserted between three historical buildings located in Midtown Manhattan. The addition includes a subterranean vault, with drainage and waterproofing systems to house rare manuscripts, drawings and other objects. To prevent deterioration of its invaluable contents, the vault has a strictly controlled environment. Sixty percent of the new addition is below street level, and includes a 275-seat auditorium. In order to accommodate this square footage, the soil and rock excavation between the three existing historic buildings extended approximately 50 feet below street level and abutted the existing building basements and foundations. Vibration monitoring ensured that existing buildings remained undamaged.

Construction above grade includes three distinct volumes. The Madison Avenue volume includes the main entrance lobby, exhibition spaces and a reading room. The 37th Street volume houses offices, a loading dock and other ancillary spaces. The 36th Street volume houses exhibition spaces. All three volumes border an enclosed atrium space, which the architect likens to a piazza in an Italian village. Exposed structural steel was designed in such a way as to appear very light and delicate. The roofs of the three volumes and the piazza are almost entirely glass and support a louver sunscreen system. The façade is made of exposed steel frames that support steel plates in some areas and glass in others. The majority of structural work in the existing buildings consisted of soil and rock excavation and foundation underpinning to increase the height of existing basements. All of the excavation in the existing buildings was performed by hand. Improved circulation is provided by new openings in existing masonry walls and some modification to existing stairs.

2007 ACEC NY Engineering Excellence Award
2006 AIA New York Chapter Honor Award
2006 New York Landmarks Conservancy Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award
New York Construction Best of 2005, Best Cultural Project

Categories: Libraries, Museums, New Construction