A proposal to landmark the New York Public Library’s Rose Main Reading Room and Bill Blass Catalogue Room at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building in Midtown received resounding support at a Landmarks Preservation Commission meeting earlier today.
The meeting was held to get public testimony on the proposal, and followed the LPC’s decision to calendar these items last month. The Stephen A. Schwarzman building was declared an individual landmark in 1968, and six years later a few interior spaces were also landmarked, including the central stairs, Astor Hall, and the McGraw Rotunda. They were the city’s first interior landmarks at the time of their designation in 1974.
The Rose Main Reading Room, and the Bill Blass Catalogue Room are among New Yorkers’ most beloved places in the city, and as a spokesperson for the New York Landmarks Conservancy pointed out, most New Yorkers would be surprised that these spaces aren’t already landmarked.
A campaign to landmark the spaces got a major push when State Senators Brad Hoylman and Liz Kreuger urged the LPC to do so earlier this year. Their push followed the over two-year renovation of these rooms, which concluded last fall.
At Tuesday’s meeting several conservancy groups spoke in favor of designating the rooms, including the Historic Districts Council, and the Landmarks Conservancy. The NYPL also enthusiastically backed the proposal citing the continued stewardship of the spaces by the library, the iconic Beaux Arts architecture of the rooms, and the civic and intellectual role these spaces played in New York City.
The LPC too seemed to strongly support designation as only a few commissioners offered comments on the proposal.
“This is the most important case I’ve seen in my tenure,” Commissioner Adi Shamir-Baron, said at the meeting. “It would be an honor to designate and protect this space.”
Chairperson Meenakshi Srinivasan concurred and closed the hearing. The proposal will now come up for a vote in the next few weeks.