AECOM Tishman managed the inspection and complete restoration of the New York Public Library’s Rose Main Reading Room – the jewel of the library’s flagship Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue – after a 16-pound plaster rosette fell from the ornate 52-foot-high ceiling.
Given the tight logistics, the means and methods of completing the work in the space, a designated New York City landmark, were a key concern. We put in place meticulous protections before work began, shielding the carved wood furnishings, floors, chandeliers and other landmarked decorative elements in the room. An extensive scaffold system erected in both the Rose Reading Room and the adjacent Bill Blass Public Catalog Room further protected the rooms below and provided a work platform – or “dance floor” 10 feet from the ceiling (and 42 feet above the floor) – for artisans restoring the landmarked ceiling murals, plasterwork and carvings. Additionally, in the attic space above the ceiling, special catwalks and platforms were built to enable workers to clean and perform abatement work.
Loading in of long beams, scaffold members and wood planking was planned around the library’s hours of operation, and access through public spaces limited. Materials that did not fit in the library’s freight elevator were loaded from 40th Street and boomed onto a scaffold tower erected on the roof, then carried into the Rose Reading Room through an existing window, which limited possible damage to the landmarked spaces as well as disruption to ongoing library operations.
Restoration work included securing loose plaster elements, replacing missing and damaged ceiling sections, vacuum cleaning all ceilings and murals, and installing a new mural over the existing damaged mural in the Bill Blass Catalog Room.
AECOM Tishman subsequently completed further work for the NYPL at their Midtown Campus, within both the Schwarzman Building and the former Mid-Manhattan Library, transforming it into the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library