Donnell Library Center
20 West 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019-6185
The Donnell LIbrary Center, a branch of the New York Public Library, was designed by Edgar I. Williams and Aymar Embury II and opened in 1955. Although firmly (and drearily) modernist in its interior and exterior design, it was clad in Indiana Limestone like the older Rockefeller Center just to the south. The building was named for Ezekiel J. Donnell (1822-1896), a cotton merchant who was an early patron of the NYPL.
In 2007 the five-story building was to be sold to Orient-Express Hotels for $59 million for replacement with an 11-story hotel. The sale was justified on the basis that the "outdated" existing building needed $48 million in repairs that the NYPL could not afford. (reference). After the recession intervened, the site ultimately went for $67.4 million, with the final result being the Baccarat Hotel and Residences
The plan was for the already claustrophobic library to return to occupy an even smaller space on the first floor and two basements in the new structure.
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