The Future for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

Re-imagine a New Central Library

MLK Library ExteriorThe 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.
 

Preliminary Design Concepts| What We're Hearing| Community Input
Architect Selection Process
 | Background



The Library has selected the team of Martinez + Johnson Architecture and Mecanoo to design the renovation.

What's New?

The Library is hosting a series of neighborhood meetings to share information about the project and gather feedback from residents about what they would like to see in their renovated central library. Dates and locations for September are below:

Thursday, Sept. 23, 6:30 p.m.
William O. Lockridge/Bellevue Library

Thursday, Sept. 25, 6:30 p.m.
Francis A. Gregory Library

Tuesday, Sept. 30, 7 p.m.
St. Paul's Parish
2430 K St. NW

Check back here for additional dates later in the year.

Preliminary Design Concept

The architects have created the design concept for the library. Read the executive summary. View the complete 132-page document by clicking on the links at the bottom of this page.


MLK Exterior Rendering










Project Cost

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 approximately $200 million in the capital budget.
 

What We're Hearing...

The Library is seeking ideas about what residents would like to see a renovated central library in a number of ways. Please share your thoughts and comments.

Residents share their ideas with the architect and library staff at the Library's Design Round Table in April.
Image from Round Table DiscussionRichard Reyes-Gavilian talks with CustomersArchitect talks with Customers


The 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.

Sign up to receive email updates on the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. Get up to date information about the status of the project and leave your comments on the MLK Library Blog.

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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. To date, we have hosted 14 focus groups. If you are interested in being considered for participation in a focus group, please send an email to martha.saccocio@dc.gov.

View comments from past community events below.

Community Forum, May 19
Library Design Roundtable, April 24
Focus Groups

Architect Selection Process

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 three-phase architect selection process began in August when the Library issued a 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.Sign up for email updates

Background

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.
ULI presented its findings at a community meeting attended by more than 200 people in November 2011.


Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in 1972
First Floor Reading Room Circa 1972Lobby Circa 1972

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.
Renderings from the Conceptual Planning Study by The Freelon Group
Exterior RenderingRendering of Great HallRendering of Children's Area

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.