Location
476 Fifth Avenue

Completion
2005

Client
New York Public Library

Square Footage
7,000 SF

Architect
Davis Brody Bond, LLP

New York Public Library - Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division

Sciame was the Construction Manager responsible for the restoration of the New York Public Library’s Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division. The major challenge of the project was the primary program change, placing compact storage units under an existing balcony. The original storage systems were constructed of cast iron and steel bookcase standards that were both decorative and structural. These “standards” supported the Vermont Danby marble floor above. In order to install a new system, the existing first floor standards had to be removed and new structural steel had to be inserted. Given the delicate nature of the existing historic finishes, the insertion of the tubular steel required the full protection of the original Welsh terra cotta tiles and the careful disassembly of the hand-carved American black walnut woodwork. Upon completion of the structural system, the woodwork was reassembled.

Every inch of this complex and richly ornamented interior was renewed, restored, and revived. After fully cleaning the plaster carved ceilings, a gilded polychrome glaze was discovered. As a result, a full restoration of the ceiling to its original decorative scheme was undertaken. The highly carved and polished black walnut frieze was cleaned and finished, walls were painted, and the cast iron shelving was painted with a bronze powdered paint. Another essential stage of the project was the restoration of the original furniture in the Reading Room.

Inserting new systems within these two rooms was formidable. The primary upgrade to the Reading Room was the significant increase to the lighting levels. This was accomplished by tucking new “up” lights around the perimeter of the room at the top of the bookcases, by restoring and supplementing two rows of exposed lamps to the four original gilt chandeliers, and by inserting high powered “down” lights within the existing plaster ceiling in order to illuminate the reading tables. Additional upgrades included wireless data, infrared smoke beam detectors, new mechanical systems, and a fully integrated security system.

Project Awards

April 24, 2019

NY Construction News – Best of 2006
Award of Merit- Rehabilitation, Renovation and Restoration