Modernizing the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

Modernizing the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. this holiday, we wanted to share a look at the latest happenings with the modernization of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington DC. Dutch firm Mecanoo and Washington DC based firm Martinez + Johnson Architecture were selected by DC Public Library early in 2014 to renovate and expand the landmark facility named for the civil rights leader. The latest renderings were released this past Fall and can be seen in slide deck below.

Designed by the modernist Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the 400,000 square foot facility opened to the public in 1972. Since that time, the library experienced issues with the HVAC system and a certain amount of neglect in the way of proper maintenance. In 2007 the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This designation applies to both the interior and exterior aspects of the structure and allows DC Public Library to operate and maintain the facility as a modern library without compromising the architect’s (Mies) original intent.

With the renovation, the chosen firms (Mecanoo and Martinez + Johnson) are seeking to be respectful of the original design while giving the library an update that brings the facility into the modern cityscape of Washington DC and encourages the cultural celebration of an open exchange of ideas. The designs for the renovation are also intended to help the library evolve into a modern library facility (a library of the future). Today, the public uses a library for so much more than simply accessing books and this modernization seeks to give the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library a renewed level of usefulness and opportunity.

According to the Mecanoo website, this project is “now going through the coordinated processes of NEPA and Section 106, with NCPC as a Lead Federal Agency.” More information on the status of the project can be found on the National Capital Planning Commission website.

Take a look at the current renderings in the slide deck and take a moment to watch Francine Houben’s (Mecanoo) presentation for the library renovation. What is your favorite part of this modernization project? How is modern library design evolving? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Learn more about the renovation of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library at these links:
DC Public Library
National Capital Planning Commission
Architect Magazine Coverage
Martinez+Johnson Architecture