A New Chapter

A Team Preserved A Historic Library By Reading Up On Risks

For more than a century, the New York Public Library's Rose Main Reading Room has been an elegant research haven for award-winning writers, Nobel laureates, inventors and students. But the historic space in New York, New York, USA started to show its age three years ago when a 16-pound (7.3-kilogram) plaster rosette from the decorative ceiling crashed 52 feet (16 meters) to the floor in the middle of the night. The damage was minimal, but the fallout was resounding: With 2.9 million visitors a year, the city-funded library had to launch an urgent project to preserve the 106-year-old Reading Room and the adjoining Bill Blass Public Catalog Room. Backed by private donors and city funds, the two-year, US$12 million project restored expansive ornamental ceilings in both rooms, including reinforcing 900 rosettes with steel cables. The teams also re-created a massive ceiling mural in the Catalog Room and refinished 22 chandeliers in both rooms, upgrading them with LED lighting.
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