Transparency a key in Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library renovation

Great Halls, an auditorium, a fabrication lab, and a roof garden will all be added to the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe building.

February 22, 2017 |

Rendering courtesy of Mecanoo.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library opened in Washington, D.C. in 1972. The 37,000-sm building was originally designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and uses transparency and light as metaphors for freedom and knowledge.

Over four decades after the building originally opened, the library is set to undergo a substantial renovation to become a modern space that reflects a focus on people and the exchange of knowledge, ideas, and culture. Mecanoo and Martinez+Johnson Architecture will work together to update the building, taking care to keep much of library’s original architecture in tact.

The architects will turn the main entrance and the two adjacent cores into focal points by making them more transparent and through the addition of spacious stairwells. A “Great Hall” will be added as a centralized area designated for cultural performances and informal events.

Upper Great Halls will be created on the upper floors through the removal of brickwork cores, again, with the intention of increasing transparency and emphasizing horizontal orientation.

The library’s departments and functions have been grouped and distributed throughout the building in order to create well-organized floors for different users and purposes. Even when looking at the building from the outside, the different atmospheres on each floor will be readily visible.

The ground floor will be home to a café with a patio terrace sheltered by the building’s large continuous arcade. The fourth and fifth floors will contain a new two-story, 300-seat auditorium and event space. A new public rooftop garden will offer ample outdoor space and views of the surrounding capital city. The glazed perimeter of the building will be redesigned to accommodate people, and not just books.

Also included in the renovation are a fabrication lab, children’s library, special collections archive, and conference center. The project is expected to be completed by 2020.

 

 

Rendering courtesy of Mecanoo.

 

Rendering courtesy of Mecanoo.

 

Rendering courtesy of Mecanoo.

 

Rendering courtesy of Mecanoo.

 

Rendering courtesy of Mecanoo.

 

Rendering courtesy of Mecanoo.

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