January 9th, 2013
Starting 2013 with Classic Beauty
This Statuesque Public Library took my breath away
Leo Astor or “Patience” by Edward Clark Potter
When I reflected on 2012 and what I will take from it to move forward in 2013, I realized that what I am really after is more of those moments that make life the wonder that it is. One such event occurred on my latest trip to New York City (days before Sandy came to visit). This was the moment I walked into the Rose Reading Room on the 3rd floor of the New York Public Library for the very first time. It is no wonder it is a National Historic Landmark and to think that it is a public space. Also known as the Main Library, and more recently the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (thanks to his $100 million donation towards restoration work). Only days ago, the estate of Mary McConnell Bailey donated $10 million to the library just because she is a fan. The original cost of this building was $9 million and Mrs. Bailey’s generous donation is a mere drop in the bucket for the cost of restoring and maintaining this majestic Beaux-Arts building designed by Architects Carrere and Hastings, right down to the table lamps. There is presently a controversial plan in place for renovating the interior but my focus today is to share a peek inside this intricately detailed building from a travelling Interior Designer’s point of view.
The breath-taking Main”Rose” Reading Room. The service desk marks the halfway point.
Even if you have no experience in building construction, this one room still boggles the mind with its expanse and exquisite detail. Thanks to some incredible engineering and 52 foot high ceilings, I was able to capture the room in a single frame. I had not planned to visit the Library. I was lured by the banner advertising the exhibition on “lunch hour” and only because of my passion for old buildings did I venture up the stairs and into all the rooms. I could easily have missed this moment if my curiosity had not compelled me to look in all the nooks and crannies. I like serendipity when I am exploring a city so for a wood geek like myself, entering this room, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Admittedly, I didn’t open a single book. I did wander about in awe at the exceptional architectural detail in this room. The craftsmen who created this marvel must have been so proud. CNC and computerized moulding machines were nowhere in sight back in the early 1900’s when these miles and miles of intricate mouldings were being created and installed.
Wickets have the feeling of an old bank.
Some of the 75 miles of book shelves
Craftsmanship and detail rarely seen in today’s interiors.
Rose Reading Room Ceiling Details
Balcony Railing and trim detailing
Carved marble cornice and gilded relief and panel ceiling
Door detail in the Rose Reading Room
Carved Spindles used as a screen.
One of the 20 massive chandeliers in the Rose Reading Room which were retrofitted for CFL’s to save on heat and energy consumption.
There are digital archives on the original design drawings for the light fixtures throughout the Building on the NYPL website. I thought about stealing the image but it is there to see so I shall continue on with my snapshot tour back down to the street.
“A good Booke is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, imbalm’d and treasur’d up on purpose to a life beyond life.”
Over the door to the Rose Reading Room as seen from the Catalogue Room.
Plaster ceiling in one of the “special” smaller reading rooms is a work of art
One of Carrere and Hastings custom chandeliers in the same reading room
Close up of glass shade
Barrel Ceiling with painted mural greets you upon arrival to the third floor.
The murals are not limited to the ceilings
Main side stairwell domed ceiling.
View of Main Entry Hall from the Stairwell.
Different stairwell, different custom light fixture, different details.
More stairwells, more details.
The Empire State Building as seen from one of the many grand arched windows
Not even the water fountains escape elaborate detailing.
Astor Hall and a row of gilded ceilings and faceted pendants.
Astor Hall medallion detail
Steps away in the Exhibition Hall the pendants are suspended from a wood medallion
The ornate detail on the Exhibition Hall door
Leo Lego Lenox stands watch inside the main doors. Not exactly heritage but iconic in its own way. Nathan Sawaya created the replicas using more than 60,000 standard gray lego bricks. They were commissioned in honour of this buildings 100th anniversary.
5th Avenue Entry
”Beauty” by Frederick William MacMonnies