Foster's plans for the $300m renovation of the main library and nearby branch were rejected last year after some controversy and public protest over the proposed removal and offsite storage of much scholarly material.

Mecanoo has been given the task of expanding the public areas of the Stephen A Schwarzman Building, the library's main non-circulating research centre at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, and will also renovate the library's smaller Mid-Manhattan branch, a lending facility located at 40th Street and Fifth Avenue.

"Libraries are the cathedrals of our time. It is the most important public building in a city," said Mecanoo principal Francine Houben. "Our holistic approach – from library card to campus – aims to create a public library in the broadest sense, welcoming to all and capable of changing the course of individual lives through innovative library spaces and services, for today and tomorrow."