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Donnell Library Center
20 West 53rd Street
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 is clad in Indiana Limestone like the older Rockefeller Center just to the south. The building is named for Ezekiel J. Donnell (1822-1896), a cotton merchant who was an early patron of the NYPL.
In 2007 five-story building was 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 The sale was justified on the basis that the "outdated" existing building needed $48 million in repairs that the NYPL could not afford. The already claustrophobic library will return to occupy an even smaller space on the first floor and two basements in the new structure. (reference)
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