Dutch design firm Mecanoo Architecten and Washington, D.C.-based Martinez + Johnson have been selected to redesign Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's 1972 Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. The library is located at Ninth and G Streets NW in the downtown core of the American capital. Mayor Vincent Gray announced on Tuesday that the team won an international competition to revitalize the city's central library, saying that the District has taken "another step towards giving our residents the great central library they deserve in a way that helps improve both the public’s library experience and our library system’s bottom line."
The budget for redesigning the 400,000 square foot (37,000 square meter) steel, brick and glass building is estimated to be in the $225 million to $250 million range. The cost to construct the original building was $18 million. The structure, named after the American civil rights leader, poses certain challenges for the design team because while the building was constructed in the modern style for the time, it has since been designated by the District of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Review Board as an historic landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The website World Architecture News describes the winning concept as retaining “the aesthetic power of van der Rohe’s original form, focusing on transparency and light.”
Mecanoo Creative Director/Architect Francine Houben will lead the design team after recently delivering the Library of Birmingham, which opened in September 2013 and is the largest public library in the United Kingdom, the largest public cultural space in Europe and the largest regional library in Europe.
“We will pay respect to Mies van der Rohe and research what is possible to prepare this building for the Library of the Future. But most important is bringing out the values of Martin Luther King. My dream is to make this building to reflect his ideals,” said Houben.