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From Paper Sketch to Majestic Building

When taking a tour at NYPL (New York Public Library), I could not help being amazed at how beautiful the structure is and listening to interesting stories about how the library was built. Not only it is fascinating to me as a history buff and a voracious reader, but it is also important to note as a user experience designer that any website like any building cannot be structured without a blueprint.

The idea for the new library was brought by John Bigelow, a New York attorney and Tilden trustee, to consolidate the Astor and Lenox libraries that were experiencing financial difficulties and had limited hours of operation. His plan was signed and agreed upon in 1895.

The site chosen for the library was the Croton Reservoir, and it took 2 years and 500 workers to dismantle it before the library could be built. The original sketch done by Dr. Billings, the library’s first director, on a scrap of paper served as the early blueprint. The director knew what he wanted – his plan was to have a large reading room in the middle of the building with seven floors of stacks underground and the fastest delivery system in the world.

Having preliminary sketches was a very important step before architects from Carrère and Hastings were hired to design and construct the new building. As a result, the new library became the largest marble structure in the United States that time. It took 9 years and $9 million to complete the building in 1911.

You may be amazed at this majestic building and how much planning was done to complete it. Currently, the library is also undergoing renovations and adding a new modern-looking wing.

It’s no different from creating a new website or redesigning it. Preliminary sketches, sitemaps, and wireframes are very important to ensure that websites are well organized and easy to use before they are designed and coded.

Published in User Experience

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