New York Public Library Midtown Campus
Renovation Design Team Selection Process

Photos: Ossip Architectuurfotografie, John Bartelstone
Images: Mecanoo
Video: Daan Wallis and Dutch Culture USA


Mecanoo with Beyer Blinder
Belle Architects and Planners

Founded in 1895, the New York Public Library, (NYPL) is the nation’s largest public library system featuring a unique combination of 88 neighborhood branches and four scholarly research centers. Employing nearly 2,500 staff who serve more than 18 million patrons a year, the library houses more than 51 million items from books to renowned research collections.

NYPL envisioned their research flagship, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (SASB) at 42nd Street, together with their busiest circulating branch, the Mid-Manhattan Library (MML) across Fifth Avenue, as a campus—the Midtown Campus.

Dovetail Design Strategists developed a bespoke, invited design team selection process for this $500-million complete reinvention of two iconic buildings—the biggest physical project in the 125-year history of the NYPL.

Based on our network of both national and international talent, we crafted two architect shortlists—one for the design architect and one for the local-architect-of-record. Dovetail introduced the NYPL to a wide field of prospects that otherwise would not have been on their radar, and the process concluded with a winning women-led design team: Francine Houben of Mecanoo and Elizabeth Leber of Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners.

Now known as the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL), the main circulating library was completed on time and on budget in July 2021. A new-generation library for all New Yorkers, the building now features special facilities for young users, adult learning, and business meetings, as well as Manhattan’s only free, publicly accessible roof terrace with spectacular Midtown views.

Work on SASB, a beloved New York City and registered US national landmark, was recently completed and provides a new library entrance at 40th St and additional public library space. The project has achieved much critical acclaim, multiple awards, and was dubbed by the New York Times as, “a glowing shrine to the printed word.”