The Future for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library
The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, at 901 G St. NW, will have a major renovation and modernization to meet the needs of D.C. residents. The building, designed by modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, was designated an historic landmark in 2007.
The DC Public Library is now exploring what's possible for this historic building, and what it would take to make it a spectacular central library for the city.
The Library has selected the architect team of Martinez + Johnson Architecture and Mecanno to design the renovation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library.
Martinez + Johnson is a D.C.-based firm that has extensive experience with historic renovation projects including D.C.’s Takoma Park and Georgetown libraries. Mecanoo is a Dutch-based firm whose work includes Boston’s Dudley Municipal Center and the Library of Birmingham in England.
The team will work with library staff and the community to determine if the project will be renovated as a stand-alone library or as a mixed-use building with additional floors. No decisions have been made on the type or extent of the renovations or additions to the library.
The total cost for the project has not been determined. Early estimates for the total cost range from $225 million to $250 million. The Mayor and City Council has committed $103 million in the capital budget.
Share Your IdeasThe Library wants to hear from you about what services, spaces and technology you want to see in the renovated library. Share your ideas and view other ideas in the MLK Jr. Library Idea Community. Anyone can view public comments, but you must register to post comments. Or take the survey.
Come share your ideas at a Library Roundtable Discussion, Thursday, April 24 at 5:30 p.m. The evening will begin with a short presentation from the architect team, followed by roundtable discussions.
Topics will include:
- Children's Services
- Teen Services
- Adult Services
- Local D.C. History/Special Collections
- Services for People with Disabilities
- Cultural & Community Spaces
- Mixed Use/Shared Spaces
Sign up for email updates on the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. Follow updates on the design process on the MLK Library Blog.
request for qualifications (RFQ) to identify interested firms with experience working on similar projects. An expert panel reviewed submissions from 26 firms that responded to the RFQ by the Sept. 23 deadline.
On Oct. 18, ten firms were selected from the original 26 to move to the second round in the search for an architecture team. The 10 firms were invited to respond to a request for technical proposal to determine how each firm would approach designing the library. Proposals were due Nov. 20. Firms were not asked to submit design concepts during this round. Instead, proposals will be judged by a team of library, urban planning, architecture and preservation experts that will evaluate the firms based on the following:
- Senior personnel assigned to the project, and their experience designing and completing major libraries and obtaining appropriate approvals from D.C. and federal review agencies;
- Approach to managing the project, developing the project budget, managing the costs and schedule while ensuring the final design meets budget requirements, and addressing key challenges that are inherent in the project; and
- Ability to meet or exceed the District’s Certified Business Enterprise participation rate of 35 percent.
On Dec. 23, the Library announced three finalist architecture teams. These three teams submitted design ideas on Feb. 6. An eight-member Technical Evaluation Committee evaluated the three finalists with input from an Advisory Panel, as well as input from the community. The Advisory Panel's role is to represent the perspectives of important stakeholders. Each Advisory Panel member brings a specific expertise that is relevant to the renovation process.
The teams presented their design ideas to the public, the Technical Evaluation Committee and the Advisory Panel at a Library Design Forum on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 10 a.m.
Images from all the architects' proposals were available for public viewing at MLK Jr. Memorial Library and all neighborhood libraries, Feb. 8-15. The final firm was announced on Tuesday, Feb. 18.
Please share your thoughts and comments.
Here's some of what we've heard so far...
The Library is conducting focus groups and surveys with a wide range of residents including adults, seniors, teens, school-age children, teachers, parents with young children and other stakeholders. If you are interested in being considered for participation in a focus group, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2011, DC Public Library engaged the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to assess the condition and suitability of the historic building as a modern library, and to advise on options for renovation. ULI gathered a team of nationally-recognized experts in architecture, urban planning, development and libraries. After interviews with more than 70 individuals, including various stakeholders, tours of the building and nearby area, and conversations with library and District agency staff, the ULI issued its findings in a report that outlined the following options:
- Renovate the building for sole use by the library.
- Renovate and add two or more floors to the building, sharing occupancy with other tenants, and using the revenue from the additional space to help fund the renovation of the library.
In September 2012, with funding from Mayor Gray, the library engaged The Freelon Group, the Martin Luther King Jr. Library architect-of-record at the time, and other consultants, to test the options identified in the ULI report and present their findings to the library board and community. Their work and the conceptual images support the following conclusions:
- It is possible to make the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library a knock-your-socks-off library for the 21st century at the current site, if extensive and expensive improvements are made.
- The existing structural support system of the building makes it possible to add two floors to the building to accommodate other uses, without additional support.
At their November 2012 meeting, the library board passed a resolution stating that the central library will remain in its current location, 901 G St. NW, and reaffirmed that it will continue to be called the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. It also requested the staff to proceed with examining options for additional investment to make it into a state-of-the-art central library.
The DC Public Library submitted the FY2014 Budget Support Act Report on Sept. 27, 2013, to the City Council. It detailed progress for the major renovation of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.
Check it out.