Design & Home

Here Are the Latest Designs for the MLK Library Remodeling

The library of the future will contain rooftop gardens, 3-D printers, TED talks, and even some books.
Here Are the Latest Designs for the MLK Library Remodeling

The architecture firms tasked with renovating the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library are out with new renderings of what the District’s flagship public library could look like in the future. The designs, by the Dutch firm Mecanoo and the DC-based company Martinez + Johnson, show what how the library might appear with an overhauled interior and—more noticeably—a one-story addition including a rooftop garden.

DC Public Library officials announced in January that they were nixing earlier plans to expand the 1972 Ludwig Mies van der Rohe building by three stories, bowing to pressure from historic preservationists and reports that such a large expansion would not be fiscally viable. The single-story addition offered today suggests a glassed-in area up top, surrounded by a terrace covered in green space and seating areas, with an expansive lawn covering the roof of the new floor. Another rendering shows the library’s second-most controversial plan: a ground-floor retail space, now presented as a sunny café populated by families and mobile workers with their laptops.

Elsewhere the Mecanoo/Martinez + Johnson team envisions a “maker space” with 3-D printers and woodworking equipment, a children’s room with play areas for the tykes who get bored by books, traditional reading rooms, and a sunken performance space that the architects project as the perfect venue for—gasp!—TED talks.

These renderings are still marked as preliminary, DCPL says in a press release, but they do give the most detailed images so far of how the city plans to remake the landmark library.

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Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.