Renovating historic architectural landmarks is no easy task, but Dutch firm, Mecanoo, will be taking on the responsibility of breathing new life into the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C, originally designed by modernist master Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Although the plans certainly call for retaining the original design’s most prominent features, the new version will include contemporary touches focused on adding more public space, such as an expansive green rooftop terrace.
The library is a massive 37,000 square feet landmarked building that opened in 1972. The original design was focused on transparency and light, metaphors for the pillars of freedom and knowledge so often referenced by Dr. King.
Working in collaboration with local firm Martinez+Johnson Architecture, the building will soon be getting a fresh new makeover that still pays homage to Dr King’s legacy. The main entrance and two adjacent cores will become the focal point of the space, opening them up to more light and community interaction. A Great Hall will be at the heart of the building, serving as a central area specifically setup to host cultural and informal events. The design also calls for new spacious stairwells to add a more fluid motion of traffic to the interior.
The distribution of the library’s various departments and functional areas will also be rearranged to make the space more people-friendly. The glazed perimeter, previously lined with books shelves, will be converted into public areas. Visitors will be able to enjoy a new café on the ground floor and an expansive green rooftop terrace with beautiful views of the urban surroundings.