The Carnegie Library in Mt. Vernon Square.
Bobak Ha'Eri/Wikimedia Commons The Carnegie Library in Mt. Vernon Square.

A century-old building in Washington, D.C., that once housed the city's central library is now set to become home to Apple. On Thursday, it was announced that the electronics company has signed a 10-year lease for 18,896-square-feet of the 51,000-square-foot building, and will fund a renovation of the historical building to accommodate the store.

Designed in 1903 by Ackerman & Ross, the Carnegie Library building housed the city's central library until it moved to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, which, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, opened in 1972. In the following decades, the Carnegie Library building was renovated by the University of the District of Columbia and then by the the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., which will continue to occupy the renovated building in tandem with Apple. Today, Events DC, the city's convention and sports authority, uses the building as an event space. A few years ago, Events DC and the International Spy Museum presented plans for extending the building, but withdrew plans in October 2014. (The International Spy Museum selected another location at D.C.'s L'Enfant Plaza.)

Courtesy Apple
Courtesy Apple

London-based Foster + Partners and the local office of Beyer Blinder Belle are leading the Carnegie Library rehabilitation project. The concept design includes restoring the exterior, removing a recent rooftop addition, replacing the north exterior stair, and constructing a new retail atrium.

"The preservation benefits of this project far outweigh the drawbacks—especially on the exterior," notes a June staff report from the city's Historic Preservation Office. "The repair of deteriorated historic fabric, removal of incompatible additions and general landscape improvements will help to ensure the accurate preservation of Andrew Carnegie’s vision for generations to come."

According to an April submission to the National Capital Planning Commission, construction is expected to start this fall and conclude next year. Apple's lease includes two five-year extension options.

"The partnership between Events DC and Apple demonstrates an innovative approach to preserving the historic character of our world-renowned Carnegie Library while creating a cultural experience that welcomes residents from across the District of Columbia and visitors from around the world,” said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser in a press release.