An early rendering of a three-story addition design, released in May of 2014.
DC Public Library An early rendering of a three-story addition design, released in May of 2014.

The DC Public Library board is backing the more modest addition proposal for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C., the library announced today. Of the two options—adding three floors or adding one floor—the board adopted a resolution Wednesday supporting the shorter addition to the 1972 structure designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

Last week, the renovation proposal by Netherlands-based Mecanoo Architecten and local firm Martinez+Johnson Architecture went before the city's Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) for an "informational" review. The presentation materials submitted to the board focused on renovating the existing structure and adding a fifth floor addition. A second option, adding an additional three mixed-use floors to the library, was discussed in earlier stages of the design process but was nearly absent in the Jan. 22 presentation materials. DCPL spokesperson George Williams explained to ARCHITECT in an email on Jan. 14: "The focus of the HPRB review is the building historic elements. Because they are present in both designs, the submission to HPRB was intended to bring the attention on the historic elements. The three-story addition is still a possibility."

Rendering of curved fifth floor addition from Jan. 22, 2015 presentation.
Mecanoo Architecten/Martinez+Johnson Architecture/DC Public Library Rendering of curved fifth floor addition from Jan. 22, 2015 presentation.
Rectangular fifth floor addition option from Jan. 22, 2015 presentation.
Mecanoo Architecten/Martinez+Johnson Architecture/DC Public Library Rectangular fifth floor addition option from Jan. 22, 2015 presentation.


Today, the DC Public Library announced that the system's Board of Trustees does not support the three-floor mixed-use addition, and favors the more modest one-floor addition. The DCPL press release announcing the board resolution adopted Wednesday, notes:

"With the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library needing the entire building for library service, adding three floors will likely generate revenues of less than 10-15 percent of the total project costs. This percentage would likely be [decreased] when considering the impact of adding three floors to the existing historic structure which may also prompt a legal review by the Mayor's Agent.  In addition, the three-floor addition was found to decrease space for new library services and was not likely to increase library usage significantly."

*Update 1/30: DCPL's Williams explains in an email: "The board's vote means we will move forward to design a standalone with fifth floor. The library architects will not design a three-story addition."

Here's the board's resolution:

DCPL Board of Trustees Resolution, 1/28/2015