Re-imagine a New Central Library
The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, at 901 G St. NW, will have a major modernization to meet the current and future needs of D.C. residents. The building, designed by modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, was designated an historic landmark in 2007.
The $208 million modernization is lead by the world-reknown design team of Martinez + Johnson Architecture and Mecanoo. The library is scheduled to close for modernization in 2017 and will re-open in 2020.
The proposed design for the central library is currently under regulatory review by three agencies. The lead agency is the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), which has purview because the building is historically designated and it sits within the central area of the nation's capital. The other two agencies are the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) and the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB).
- Balance the joy of reading with space for innovation, creation, collaboration and technology.
- Showcase the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Respect the building’s historic designation and the industrial, modern style of the original architect, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
- Create a space that is bright, open, flexible and welcoming for all.
The DC Public Library has identified space and plans to create a 5,800 square-foot temporary library at 1990 K St. NW. The Library Express location would include a computer training classroom; 8-12 public computers; space for Adult Literacy and Center for Accessibility services; a location for holds pick-up; and a small collection of books. Learn more. Plans for city-wide services are still being developed.
The Library wants to hear your thoughts on the proposed design. Share your ideas, view other ideas and see the proposed design in the MLK Jr. Library Idea Community. Anyone can view public comments, but you must register to post comments.
The Library has hosted several community meetings to share design ideas and gather feedback from residents about what they would like to see in the modernized library.
In November 2015, as part of the design process, the Library hosted a community forum entitled "Dr. King in D.C. -- A Community Conversation."
In September 2014, the Library convened neighborhood meetings to answer questions and get residents' ideas for the building. Each meeting was hosted by a member of the MLK Library Renovation Advisory Panel. More than 60 people attended the meetings held at Bellevue/William O. Lockridge Library, Francis A. Gregory Library and in the West End neighborhood (at St. Paul's Parish).
Browse comments and questions from neighborhood meetings here.
Focus Groups and Surveys
The Library conducted focus groups and surveys with a wide range of residents including adults, seniors, teens, school-age children, teachers, parents with young children, Spanish-speaking customers and other stakeholders.
Here's some of what we've heard:
Martinez + Johnson is a D.C.-based architecture firm that has extensive experience with historic modernization 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.
Planning for the modernization of the central library began in 2011 and enlisted both local and national experts as well as extensive community engagement. Learn more.