BPL Plaza Post-Renovation

Well, the renovation of the Brooklyn Public Library plaza at Grand Army Plaza that’s taken the better part of two years is complete. When we walked by on Sunday, the final product—heavy on the marble—looked pretty nice, if a tad bit cold, to us. As Gowanus Lounge remarked, the main stairway is now lined with yellow chains, an effort, evidently, to keep people from frolicking in the fountains on either end of the steps. Do you think this’ll end up being a place where people actually hang out? Presumably that was the intention.
Checking In On The BPL Plaza Renovation[Brownstoner] GMAP

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  • Good lord, it looks like a mausoleum

  • Um, have you never seen the building before?

    It’s looked like that since it was built.

    It’s a gorgeous building.

    Sad about those yellow chain links though. I hope they come up with a more viable solution to people playing in the fountain…

  • They took 2 years to do that? I can’t see any big differences in the picture. Maybe I have to go to take a look.

  • yes – it doesn’t seem much different from this picture. Its cleaner looking, etc. but its nothing like the change to the Museum. People have always hungout on steps, hopefully it won’t be discouraged (and hopefully it will be civilized)

    still a great great building inside and out.

  • A friend who works at the library told me that the bulk of the work during the renovation was to add a new theater/lecture hall space, which lies below the stairs and is obviously only accessible only from the inside of the building.

  • when the weather was warmer, it was fun to hang out on the steps and let your feet dangle in the mini-fountains on the steps. My daughters also had a blast playing in them and are always begging to go back, so we’re sad about the yellow chains.

    this picture doesn’t show it very, but the renovation looks great. more plants, fountains, etc. Now if they would just start on restoring the parkway between GAP and Washington. That were suppossed to start this fall, but that project has been postponed presumably.

  • Thankfully they did not muck up this building like the Brooklyn Museum travesty.

  • Not commenting on the aesthetics, but I think a lot of the work went in to the wheelchair ramps along the two sides. The major points seem to have been to create more platform space for sitting, performances and the like, and to add the accessibility ramps, without tampering much with the overall feel. There was probably no way to do that without busting the whole thing up and starting over, even if the visual change is minimal in the end. Maybe someone from BPL can post and say more.

  • Yes, please check out the space UNDERNEATH. That’s the big deal. Also, I was there the other day when they had chairs with shade umbrellas out at the front of the plaza, and while I wondered how much I’d want to sit next to the mess that is GAP, on my way out I gave it a try. Granted it was sunny and breezy and the traffic was at a minimum (not rush hour, although there was road work being done)I was AMAZED at how NICE it was to sit for a minute outside. It gets pretty stuffy inside…
    With the high ballustrade/wall separating me from Flatbush Ave, it didn’t seem so crazy to me as a place to eat if you weren’t into the park bench kind of thing next door. And yes, I know, there are picnic benches, but they’ve got the old ketchup etc you’ve got to clear away before you sit.

  • The building looks great, but the yellow links are fugly. How about an electronic fence instead?

  • I love that building, and have been going to that library since I was in my early 20’s…

    Definitely folks will hang out on the steps and enjoy themselves in the Spring, Summer and Fall… they already have been!

    On the ground floor there’s a small cafe now too.

    I love, love, love that library.

  • People hung out there BEFORE the renovation. That being said, it looks pretty good, if strangely similar to the look prior to when the work was done.

  • this is the nicest public library in the country, if you ask me.

    something about it brings so many good feelings.

  • It looks the same because the bulk of the work was done inside the building making a new theatre.

  • Albert Speer would be proud…

    I like it. Does that make me a bad person?

  • I wish they had planted more trees. It looks to bare to me. But I certainly am glad they are finally done with it and that they added ramps. This city is terrible in terms of accessibility.

  • How do you do a renovation like that, one that borrows from the Museum’s fountains, and then not look ahead to making it safe? Why do they realise after it’s open that they’ll have to disfigure it with yellow chains? It’s pretty and all that, and I’m sure the theater below is boss, but the plaza suffers from the safe needlessly flashy short-termism that bedevils every other public works project that gets inflicted on the Borough. It’s like Marty Markowitz is actually drawing up the plans.

  • This is SUCH a great library. Anyone who hasn’t used it, check it out.

  • I like that library, but does anyone else think that it looks like some sort of fascist monument?

  • I’m glad it’s finally done.

    The Brooklyn Childrens’ Museum hoever, is another story. It’s the story of a vital community and cultural resource that is the victim of vanity architecture. The bulging yellow blob is an insult to the surrounding historic district. How work like this gets approved is a complete mystery to me.

  • I completely agree, Gringcorp.

    What lack of thought could possibly prompt a designer to install a feature that will attract people (fountains! yeah! great place to cool off on a hot day!), and only later realize that it will attract people (it’s unsafe! and having people frolick will ruin my aesthetic plans!) and so have to add ugly yellow chains to keep them away?!?

    What utter, wasteful insanity.

  • To 12:49, didn’t Koolhaus build some crazy-ass public library in the Pacific NW? But I agree this library is awesome. Shall we say best library in NYC?

  • We saw a jazz band playing there about a month ago. It was great. They had chairs for seating and a stage for the band…

  • How bout best library east of the Mississippi…?

    All about compromise…

  • “Albert Speer would be proud…

    I like it. Does that make me a bad person?”

    Had to laugh. A certain amount of architecture from this period does look like the backdrop for a Leni Riefenstahl production.

    On the other hand, some more recent civic design, such as Giuliani’s City Hall Park — with decor straight from Mussolini — doesn’t even have the excuse that it was designed in the 30’s.

  • I agree, I think the fountains on the stairs was a bad call.

  • 2:41 – Koolhaas built a crazy library in Seattle. Visually stunning from the exterior and a feat of architectural experimentation and innovative engineering, but totally unusable as a habitable space.

    The reading rooms are BLACK. literally.
    the building isn’t functional, it’s a sculpture.

  • Needs more cowbell.

    Where is it? I don’t know, I don’t know!

  • Hello Brownstoners –

    I noticed the great discussion on the new renovated Brooklyn Public Library Plaza today and thought it would be a good opportunity to respond. We’re so happy that the Plaza is finished and that Brooklynites are taking advantage of the outdoor space, free Wifi and new tables and chairs. We are still working out some of the details of the fountains and hope to have the yellow chains down soon.

    Someone did comment about all the work that happened underground — and he or she is correct — the big news is the new Dweck Center, which is a 200 seat, state of the art auditorium featuring programming for people of all ages and stages. We launched our inaugural season of performances, discussions and readings a month ago and we’re really happy to be able to offer this new resource to the residents of Brooklyn. For a list of upcoming performances, visit our website at:


    Thanks for all the comments, and I hope you visit the library soon!

    Dionne Mack-Harvin
    Executive Director
    Brooklyn Public Library

  • Thank you. Can’t wait to check out all the improvements.

    I just noticed on the website…I hadn’t realized the Brooklyn Public Library was not affiliated with the greater NYC and Queens Public Library system.


    Thanks for making this such a great place to learn and enjoy.

  • I read somewhere the building was designed to look like an open book. I don’t know if it’s true, but it does look a bit like one. Still think more greenery would improve it, it looks too monochromatic and sterile.

  • nice place to skateboard!!!!

  • MUCH to small and plain [FORTUNATELY] to have ever met with approval from Albert, Leni, or their boss–it just shares some late deco/art moderne touches with buildings from the same period in Germany and Italy–nothing more.

  • Has anyone actually been to the oddly named Dweck center (cries out to be renamed Dreck?) I couldn’t even find the entrance to it (no signs) and apparently there’s no way to walk down (according to a guard, who told me to take the hard-to-find elevators, but he could be wrong.)

    Once there, I noted, count ’em, three security guards. For a classical guitar concert with about 30 people.

    Look, it’s claustrophobic enough to go underground. Not having a “grand” (or even a modest) entrance you can walk down is weird. I wouldn’t want to wait on 2 elevators with 200 people leaving. And with the guards, it made for less than an uplifting experience (I resisted saying downlifted.)

    Was there an architect involved? Who?

  • I think that this looks great! Very clean and attractive.

    Ms. Mack-Harvin, when will the BPL get automated check-out machines so that we no longer have to deal with your surly staff?

    Or you could start serving beer in the cafe and man the tables with scantily-clad waitresses. All in the name of literacy.

  • is this where the sex party takes place?

    anyone have the deets?