NYC firm gives Jefferson Market Library a modern rewrite

Architecture, urban design, and planning firm WXY has modernized Jefferson Market Library in New York City to make it more open, bright, and accessible to the public. Photo courtesy Aude/BeyondKen
Historical Photograph of Jefferson Market Library. Photo © The New York Public Library and The Miriam and Ira D. Walach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs

Architecture, urban design, and planning firm WXY has modernized Jefferson Market Library in New York City to make it more open, bright, and accessible to the public.

Originally transformed from an 1870s courthouse, the library’s new design simplifies its internal organization and incorporates new wheelchair ramps outside, with sympathetic materials and an unobtrusive railing design. An open, glowing double-height space in the previously dim interior—a restored feature of the original judges’ chambers—has become a venue for public art and readings.

Jefferson Market Library has an extraordinary history, according to Layng Pew, AIA, principal of WXY and the project’s leader.

“Saved from demolition by the community in the wake of the loss of Penn Station, in 1967, the architect Giorgio Cavaglieri designed a conversion to a library in one of the first examples of this kind of adaptive reuse. The work completed this year continues in that spirit by adapting The New York Public Library facility to provide universal access to the public.”

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