MASterworks Explorations: NYPL’s Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library

2021 Winner for Best Adaptive Reuse

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This fall, as a part of Archtober and NYCxDESIGN, MAS is celebrating design excellence in New York City with our 2021 MASterworks Awards! We have curated a selection of in person explorations and online in-conversations with this year’s honored projects.

On Monday, November 8th from 5:00-6:00 PM, join MAS for a guided visit of the New York Public Library’s Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library, 2021 MASterwork winner for Best Adaptive Reuse. Liz Leber (Managing Partner, Beyer Blinder Belle) and Francine Houben (Creative Director/Founding Partner, Mecanoo) will lead an exploration to share how the space was transformed to better meet the needs of New Yorkers.

Constructed in 1915 as a department store and used by NYPL since the 1970s, it has been reimagined, featuring eight floors of public amenities, including its collection of over 400,000 books and materials, spaces for learning and gathering, an accessible rooftop terrace, and more. The space is an expansive resource centered in Midtown Manhattan that New Yorkers have long needed and deserve.

Capacity is limited.

Learn more about the 2021 MASterworks winners and the full roster of programming here.

Monday, November 8
5:00 PM — 6:00 PM

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library
455 5th Ave
New York, NY 10016
Exact meeting location to be provided upon RSVP

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library is easily accessible by transit and bicycle. Nearest public transit: 5th Ave/W. 39th Street bus stop, which serves the BM1, BM2, and BM3 buses. The 42nd Street/Bryant Park station serves the B, D, F, and M trains. There is a Citi Bike station at E. 41st Street/Madison Ave.


  • Photo: John Bartelstone. Courtesy of NYPL.
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  • BEFORE. The 1915 former department store, tired from nearly 50 years of high traffic as a library, required a functional and architectural overhaul, and a new image for this flagship location. Photo: John Bartelstone. Courtesy of NYPL.
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  • Today, an interior street lined with columns runs beneath a canopy of wood slats, drawing visitors from the Fifth Avenue entrance to the welcome desk. Photo: John Bartelstone. Courtesy of NYPL.
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  • The project–the largest public-private rehabilitation in NYPL’s 125-year history–boosts public space by 35%, doubles seating, and improves resource access. Photo: John Bartelstone. Courtesy of NYPL.
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  • Gently sloping ramps connect five levels of book stacks to three levels of open library space. The Long Room’s ceiling artwork is by Hayal Pozanti. Photo: John Bartelstone. Courtesy of NYPL.
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  • The Long Room is visible as a welcoming and impressive collection of materials. The architecture celebrates the sharing of knowledge and invites browsing. Photo: John Bartelstone. Courtesy of NYPL.
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  • A new floorplate opening reveals the lower ground floor, creates visual connection with the children’s play area, and provides access to daylight. Photo: John Bartelstone. Courtesy of NYPL.
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  • A new seventh floor, built at the former roof level, includes a wraparound terrace, roof garden, café, and 268-seat venue with pitched wood slat ceilings. Photo: John Bartelstone. Courtesy of NYPL.
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  • The Wizard’s Hat creatively hides mechanicals. New York’s Beaux Arts patinated copper-clad mansards inspired the geometry and finish of the metal cladding. Photo: John Bartelstone. Courtesy of NYPL.
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COVID Safety Guidelines:
This program is limited to 20 attendees. As the program may bring individuals into close proximity with each other and to comply with NYPL’s mask requirement, masks must be worn inside the building at all times. Your guide and fellow participants will thank you for your cooperation. Along with masks, proof vaccination may be required, so please be prepared to have both with you. For more information about coronavirus and a guide on how to stay safe, please visit

About the MASterworks Awards:

Established in 2001, the MASterworks Awards pay tribute each year to projects that make a significant contribution to New York City’s built environment. Awards are presented in the following categories:

Best New Building for outstanding architectural design
Best Urban Landscape for a new or revitalized open space that contributes to livability and resilience
Best Restoration for a project that expertly enhances the original qualities of a significant historic building or structure
Best Adaptive Reuse for a project that demonstrates exceptional creativity in adaptive reuse of an existing building or structure
Best New Infrastructure for distinctive design in public service projects
Best New Urban Amenity for an addition to the built environment that contributes to a more livable city.

2021 MASterworks Jury:

Justin Davidson | Architecture and Classical Music Critic, New York Magazine
Lisa Switkin, FAAR, ASLA | Senior Principal, James Corner Field Operations
Calvin Tsao, FAIA, FAAR | Principal, Tsao & McKown Architects & MAS Board of Directors
Weston Walker, AIA, LEED AP | Design Principal and Partner, Studio Gang
Vicki Weiner | Adjunct Associate Professor and Academic Coordinator of Historic Preservation, Pratt Institute

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