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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Public Libraries Converted To Housing ??

Can You Imagine?
M.A.S. feel the libraries are underused.

The urban planning advocacy organization has begun conversations with the directors of New York City’s three library systems about finding new uses for interior and exterior space, including potentially converting it to public housing.

The Municipal Arts Society 
is initiating conversations about potentially turning underused city library space into housing, 

Is this a tragedy ?
What do you think?
And then what do you think will be next.....?

Renee Finberg 'TELLS ALL' in her Blog of her Adventures in Design,Owner of 'The Trade' Interiors, ,Boca Raton,Palm Beach,Boca Raton Florida,All custom upholstery,case-goods,window treatments,Antiques, Accessories and Antique accessories, built-ins, and all built in seating, bedding and pillows,Roseta Santiago Works Of Art, Public Libraries Converted To Housing , Public Libraries Converted To Housing 


  1. Bittersweet! It is sad that the libraries are full, but there are some beautiful building that have housed these libraries.
    Have a great Monday, Renee!

  2. This is wrong in so many ways I can't even count them all.
    New York may be crowded, but if it has the same glut of unsold condos that Chicago has, there's certainly no shortage of housing that would call for a crazy scheme like this.

    Of course, if we're talking affordable housing, well, that's a different story. There's never enough of that. The number of minimum-wage workers barely getting by increases all the time, with more & more people falling by the way and ending up homeless- or, at least, more people claiming to be homeless as they jingle their plastic cups on Michigan Avenue. But then, the question of whether those folks are really homeless or whether they're merely in danger of finding themselves on the streets is irrelevant to this particular discussion, because that's not the crowd that would end up in these places anyway: no, instead, it would be those with plenty of money: 400-pound economic gorillas used to getting whatever it is they want, in this case, splendid edifices built to be not only functional but beautiful, places originally designed for the benefit of the many, not just the privileged few. Till now, that is.

    Here in Chicago, we have a similar situation, where the risk ins't to our current library (a heavy-handed Postmodern pastiche of the Richardsonian Romanesque blown up to gigantic scale, with overscaled gargoyles on top that look like leftover set pieces from one of the Batman movies) but, rather, to our former library, a spectacular 1893 Beaux-Arts building by Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, with a handsome sequence of noble spaces, all executed in rich materials. The old CPL has been called the People's Palace not just because it's beautiful in detail & handsome in proportion but also because it's free. Or was.

    Actually, the place is still free at the moment, but the cafe, the elegant & comfortable meeting areas open to the public, the shop--basically all the things that have drawn the public inside for the last few decades--have recently been given the boot so that the joint can be re-imagined by a bunch of out-of-town planners with the kind of bigger-&-better ideas that you just can't find in a podunk town like Chicago these days. Or, at least, that seems to be the message from City Hall: Trust us. We know better than you. (I have only two words for that: parking meters--and I doin't even have a car.) Anyway, few things disturb me more than the gradual encroachement of private control over formerly-public spaces.


  3. Can you imagine one of those ceilings in your lounge. The sad truth is that since the advent of the electronic explosion, less and less people are visiting public libraries. It would be a shame to watch the buildings fall into disrepair due to lack of interest. Such great spaces, but rather than housing, maybe some other form of community activity?

  4. ...continued

    None of this even addresses the issue of the other thing these buildings were built to serve--books. Books-on-paper, that is, not digital verions thereof streaming across the Web. Ten years ago, a massive bad thing--I can't even remember what it was, now: exposion? flooding? something--left the neighborhod just south of my apartment without power for two whole weeks. Eerily silent during the day & pitch black at night, those blocks were like a piece of a third-world city plunked down smack in the middle of one of a nicest areas just off Lake Shore Drive. My friends in the Dark Zone lived for two weeks on candlelight & takeout: it was either that or starve. No TV, no Internet, no stereos. The only things between them & boredom (or in a few cases, madness) were pianos & books.

    Don't get me wrong: computers are great and all. I used to work in the engineering department at the Phone Company, and we always had the latest technology, meaning we were using a rudimentary version of the Internet back in the early 80s. But most of what I produced in those early days is now inaccessible, locked up in obsolete formats that are only readable by machines in museums, whereas the scribbled notes I transcribed everything from were written in pencil on paper and are therefore still legible. And well-made books can last hundreds of years. If the Library at Alexandria had been preserved on digital media before the library itself burned, would its contents be any less lost?

    Sure, books take up more space than, say, a thumb drive does, but on the other hand, it's a lot harder to lose the entire Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica than it is to lose the little piece of plastic & metal that contains the whole EB in digital form.

    So sure, you can load up all those dusty old 1930s issues of House & Garden and haul them off to a warehouse in New Jersey (where being virtually inaccessible, they'll sit around unused until the day when they're auctioned off to an ebay broker who'll slice them up and sell them by-the-page) and once our shared cultural heritage is out of the way, then you can sell off the grand spaces that were designed for regular people's enjoyment to those who can afford to maintain them for their own private enjoyment. That doesn't make it right.

    The potential looting of public property for the benefit of a few well-connected zillionaires reminds me of the scene in one of the James Bond movies where the elegant madman who's the film's evil genius has a foyer--a huge underground cave, as I recall--with an easel displaying a Raphael Madonna that had, at the time the film was made, had recently been stolen from a major museum. Here's my question: who's the genius at the M.A.S. that's behind this bizarre scheme?

  5. I think that could, quite possible, be a pity!!!!!!!! xxx

  6. jules

    i think it is a disgrace.
    and i 'betcha' it's a republican behind it.
    after all libraries are for the benefit of ALL AMERICANS
    and they are supported by the government.

    pooh pooh on the whole idea!!

  7. yonks & simply grand

    i agree with you both!

    xx thank you for the comments!

  8. So sad, bad idea.
    maybe public weddings.



Thanks for participating!!

About Renée Finberg

I have been in this business since the age of 22.

I love what I do and cannot imagine my life without Design.

Design Challenges are great.

And because of those challenges

I have imported fine antique pieces from Paris,

Designed and Manufactured Furniture,

Created Fantastic Window Treatments,

And solved all kinds of spatial & architectural issues

With my unique style.

If I can't find it, I create it.

My rooms would make excellent movie sets.

I am a visual, tactile and audio sensitive individual.

Creating is what I live for, not math, not spelling, not science.

Just Great Design.

Just imagine how it would be if each of us,

If only for a few hours of everyday,We could be in a space that is our very own.A place that is exactly the way we want it to be

Surrounded by all the things we wanted to see,

The atmosphere we wanted feel, smell and the sound we wanted to listen to.

Private Paradise



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