New York: Renzo Piano to redesign the Morgan Library

Renzo Piano is to take on another major project in Manhattan. Following his skyscraper for the New York Times which will rise up on 40th street, the Italian architect is set to design the extension to the precious Morgan Library, the ‘museum-house’ of thousands of rare books owned by J. Pierpont Morgan designed by Charles McKim of McKim, Mead and White in 1906. The historic building which takes up half a block in Madison Avenue will close for building work on 4 December and reopen in 2006. In the main block – until 4 May next year – an exhibition of architectural drawings and models illustrates Piano’s design for the new space.

The “spiritual heart of the Library” – the collection of rare books and miniatures, the first in the United States – will be housed underground. Piano’s “vision” consists of a four storey underground building connected by metal staircases to contain the bookshelves and an auditorium; above ground will be three pavilions which open onto a glass roofed atrium. A 7m steel cube with no windows connects up to Morgan’s house and, with the library which faces onto 36th street, will be used to exhibit exceptionally rare books and miniatures.

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