The Morgan Library

Installed in a building designed by New York architects Mc Kim, Mead & White in 1906, the Morgan Library later extended in the “Morgan library Annex Building” (built 1928), and subsequently in a series of other extensions, included the former Mansion of the Morgan Family (1853), forming a kind of village.

A delicate intervention was made first to bring a solution to interior public circulation, now inadequate, consequence of various extensions, and also because Manhattan’s urban density did not allow the building of yet another wing.

A very important aspect of the design is that much of the new space has been created underground. This made  possible to expand the Morgan by about one third, without exceeding the height of historical structures or compromising the neighbourhood’s scale.

In fact, part of the area of the new building (total gross area 136,000 square feet  of which 76,000 new+60,000 existing), was gained underground where now takes place a 299-seat auditorium, as well as the three level safe vault space and the mechanical room.

Above ground, three new functional pavilions insert themselves between the historical buildings, without touching them, in a space made available by the demolition of the different and not Landmark extensions. To create a scale unity and a global sense of balance, this expansion respects the proportions of the three original buildings.

At the heart of the new complex, a “piazza” distributes the space, facilitating circulation between the six different wings of the Morgan Library. Covered by a glazed, transparent roof (flying carpet), the “piazza” is the focus of the project,  where all activities meet.

This kind of “flying carpet” covers also the three new pavilions and generates the connection with the existing buildings.

In addition to the new public entrance leading to the piazza, the first, three-storey pavilion on Madison Avenue shelters a new exhibition space and the new reading room, which occupies a naturally lit space crowning the new building.

The cube pavilion is a special cubic space of 20ft x 20ft especially intended to show the Morgan’s masterpieces. This small pavilion has also the important function of a connecting piece between the Mc Kim and the Annex buildings.

On the north side, a new four-storey building directly connected with the Morgan Mansion, contains new offices spaces facing both on the “piazza and the 37th Street.

The old buildings have been restored: the Annex Building has become the main gallery space, and the Mc Kim building is  directly connected with the “piazza” and is one the masterpiece of the institution.  A new book shop, a café, and a small restaurant also integrate into the plan for the new Morgan.

The Morgan Library has been opened to the public on April the 29th 2006



25 photos and 10 drawings