Credit: DCPL


The District of Columbia Public Library system (DCPL) released the first designs for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library renovation on Friday.

In February, DCPL selected Dutch firm Mecanoo and D.C.–based Martinez+Johnson Architecture to renovate and update the 1972 structure, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The library is the one structure in the city designed by Mies, and the only library he ever designed.

The architects presented a concept proposal during the design competition, but have been soliciting feedback from the community over the past several months, and have now released their initial designs for the renovation. The architects will present their designs to the public on Monday at the MLK Library.

  • Exterior rendering showing additional floors.

    Credit: DCPL

    Exterior rendering showing additional floors.
  • Exterior rendering showing additional floors.

    Credit: DCPL

    Exterior rendering showing additional floors.

The cafe on the ground floor.

The cafe on the ground floor.

Credit: DCPL


Adding additional floors to the library—potentially residential—has been a possibility and the teams in the design competition were required to present ideas for both scenarios: a library with added floors and a library without. The renderings, floor plans, and sections in Friday's release show both options. Some of the renderings still include the diagonal residential component that Mecanoo and Martinez+Johnson presented in February, but the release did not include floor plans for the residential component.

The lower level, called the Innovation Floor, would house a teen area, innovation and prototyping, and support services.

Lower level.

Lower level.

Credit: DCPL

Lower level.

Lower level.

Credit: DCPL

The ground level, called the Market Floor, would house the digital commons, a café, a children's hub, and a marketplace in place of the library's existing Great Hall.

Ground floor.

Ground floor.

Credit: DCPL

Ground floor.

Ground floor.

Credit: DCPL

The second level, called the Experience Floor, would house the center for adaptive services, adult services, popular library, adult literacy, college information, and staff offices.

Second floor.

Second floor.

Credit: DCPL

Second floor.

Second floor.

Credit: DCPL

The third level, called the Knowledge Floor, would house staff offices and adult services non-fiction.

Third floor.

Third floor.

Credit: DCPL

Third floor.

Third floor.

Credit: DCPL

The fourth level, called the Legacy Floor, would house the Washingtoniana local history and black studies departments, staff offices, meeting and event space, and an auditorium.

Fourth floor.

Fourth floor.

Credit: DCPL

Fourth floor.

Fourth floor.

Credit: DCPL

The fifth and roof level:

Fifth floor.

Fifth floor.

Credit: DCPL

Fifth floor.

Fifth floor.

Credit: DCPL