NY's Donnell Library: Spartan Beauty or a Plain Old Beast?
Does the exterior of a library matter...or only what's inside?
This article from NY Times Real Estate section asks rhetorically, "IS the 1955 Donnell Library on Manhattan's West 53rd Street a rare piece of midcentury Modernism? Or an empty suit of expressionless masonry?"
As the vacant building heads toward demolition in two years, a cadre of preservationists still hope to convince the Landmarks Preservation Commission that the limestone facade is not a nothing, but a something.
The Donnell was not supposed to be there at all. As John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s Art Deco complex was nearing completion in the early 1930s, he had the idea of extending Rockefeller Plaza, from 49th to 51st Streets, by a block, or better yet two blocks, to the north. That way, the Museum of Modern Art, a favorite Rockefeller cause, would preside over the plaza at 53rd Street, which he found a particularly attractive vision.
Now the Donnell is scheduled to be demolished to make way for a hotel with the library on the first floor.