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Construction Begins on The New York Public Library’s New Roosevelt Island Branch

October 12, 2018

DDC: Ian Michaels
NYPL: Amy Geduldig

(New York, NY – October 12, 2018) New York Public Library (NYPL) President Tony Marx and NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Commissioner Lorraine Grillo today announced that construction has begun on a new, much larger Roosevelt Island branch. NYPL and DDC joined island residents and local elected officials to break ground on the $7.8 million project – funded by Mayor Bill de Blasio, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council Member Ben Kallos and former City Council Member Jessica Lappin – which will more than double library space on Roosevelt Island. The project, being managed by DDC for the Library, is projected to be completed in late 2019.


An artist’s rendering of the exterior of the future Roosevelt Island Branch Library

The project will convert the first floor of a former school at 504 Main Street into a new, energy efficient 5,200-square-foot New York Public Library branch, replacing the smaller existing branch down the street at 524 Main Street. The new space will provide new accommodations for the community, unavailable in the current one-room library. A separate multi-use community room will serve the public for various events and activities, and will include an audio induction loop to help the hearing impaired. A children’s room will also be provided, with glass doors and a glass partition to maintain a sense of openness inside the new facility.

“The Roosevelt Island community has long needed and wanted a bigger library, and we are so proud to break ground on a project that will do just that” said New York Public Library President Tony Marx. “The new space will be more than double the small but mighty branch that has served this unique and growing community for decades. It is the branch this community deserves, and we look forward to opening it next year.”

“Libraries bring value to communities through learning and as a public meeting space,” said DDC Commissioner Lorraine Grillo. “We’re very pleased to work with our partners at NYPL to provide a new, environmentally friendly branch on Roosevelt Island.”

“Every neighborhood should have a library it can be proud of,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “This new NYPL branch on Roosevelt Island will double the f library space, meet high standards for accessibility and sustainability, and boast added amenities for the entire community to enjoy. Thank you to NYPL President Tony Marx and DDC Commissioner Lorraine Grillo for breaking ground on this new facility.”

"Roosevelt Islanders love their public library! That's why I secured $1.7 million for the Roosevelt Island Library to move to its new location and to bring technology upgrades to this branch," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "It is great to see the project moving ahead. I am very much looking forward to this new state of the art New York Public Library opening its doors and serving the residents of Roosevelt Island." 

"Libraries provide New Yorkers with lifelong educational opportunities and are critical to the well-being of our neighborhoods,” said State Senator José Serrano. NYPL’s Roosevelt Island branch has done a wonderful job of providing much-needed services and programming for this community, and I look forward to the possibilities of an expanded space. Many thanks to President Marx, Commissioner Grillo, and my colleagues in government for working to provide an enhanced library experience for Roosevelt Island residents while keeping an eye toward accessibility and environmental sustainability."

"The NYPL is a treasure,” said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright. “It opens the world to anyone who enters! I commend President Marx, Commissioner Grillo and my colleagues in City government, who supported and shepherded the expansion of the Roosevelt Island branch. The enhanced environment will significantly enrich the experience for my constituents."

"Public libraries and universal access to knowledge lie at the very heart of our democracy,” said former Council Member Jessica Lappin. Books teach us, transport us, and change us. So a heartfelt congratulations to all the island residents who worked tenaciously for the last 15 years on this. As your former City Councilwoman, I was thrilled to dedicate $2 million in city funds to develop this new, larger, and drier branch and I can't wait to see it open."

The new branch will be fully ADA accessible, with a canopy to enhance public safety and a vestibule with automatic doors. The area surrounding the entry will be re-landscaped to include new plantings, an exterior book drop and bench seating that will also serve as a local bus stop. Entry will be into an open, flexible space with shelving for books, computer work stations, a reading area, a teen area and a circulation counter. Support spaces will also be provided for staff, with a private area, librarian’s office and janitor and IT closets.

The design will meet LEED Silver standards for environmental sustainability, with new, high-efficiency HVAC and other mechanical equipment in the basement and on the roof. The library will also incorporate automated LED lighting and low flow plumbing fixtures, and will make use of sustainable materials with minimal levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

An artist’s rendering of the interior of the future Roosevelt Island Branch Library

The new Roosevelt Avenue Library was designed by Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects under DDC’s Design and Construction Excellence 2.0 program, which pre-selects and pre-qualifies design firms that DDC works with on projects with construction budgets of up to $50 million. The program is designed to decrease the amount of time required for DDC to procure design services, while ensuring the highest levels of quality and professionalism in construction projects managed by the agency. The contractor is XBR, Inc. headquartered in Astoria, Queens.

Plans for the new branch were informed by community feedback, garnered in surveys and public meetings as part of the Library’s “Building for You” community engagement program.

The Roosevelt Island Library has been serving the community for over 40 years, since its opening in 1976 under the leadership of Dorothy and Herman Reade and joining The New York Public Library system in 1997. It remains a much-loved and well-used resource in the neighborhood, receiving over 81,000 visits with a circulation of over 100,000 items this past year. 

About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $14 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit

About The New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations — including research and branch libraries — throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library serves more than 18 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at