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The Morgan Library and Museum

New York, NY

This project inserted a new steel and glass addition between three historic museum buildings in Midtown Manhattan. Silman designed the new building’s exposed structural steel to appear very light and delicate. The addition includes a 275-seat auditorium and a subterranean vault with drainage and waterproofing systems to house rare manuscripts, drawings, and other objects. To prevent deterioration of these invaluable contents, the vault has a strictly controlled environment.

Construction above grade included three distinct volumes: The Madison Avenue volume includes the main entrance lobby, exhibition spaces, and a reading room. The 37th Street volume houses offices, a loading dock, and other ancillary spaces. The 36th Street volume houses exhibition spaces. All three volumes border an enclosed atrium space, which the architect has likened to a piazza in an Italian village. The roofs of the three volumes and the piazza are almost entirely glass and support a louver sunscreen system. The facade is made of exposed steel frames that support steel plates in some areas and glass in others.

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In order to accommodate the sixty percent of the new addition that is below street level, the soil and rock excavation between the three existing historic buildings extended approximately 50 feet down and abutted the existing building basements and foundations. Vibration monitoring ensured that existing buildings remained undamaged.

In order to accommodate the sixty percent of the new addition that is below street level, the soil and rock excavation between the three existing historic buildings extended approximately 50 feet down and abutted the existing building basements and foundations. Vibration monitoring ensured that existing buildings remained undamaged.

Most of the structural work in the existing buildings consisted of excavation and foundation underpinning to increase the height of existing basements. New openings in existing masonry walls and modifications to existing stairs improve overall circulation.

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