One of the biggest architecture stories right now in Washington, D.C., is the renovation of the city's central library, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and opened in 1972. Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo and local firm Martinez+Johnson Architecture, selected from three shortlisted teams in February 2014, have been working on an extensive renovation to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, located in the district's downtown near the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.
DC Public Library (DCPL) last released preliminary renderings of the renovation back in March. At a public meeting at the MLK Library on Wednesday night, DCPL's executive director Richard Reyes-Gavilan presented several additional renderings of the project, although DCPL spokesperson George Williams notes in an email that these images have been shown in "community meetings" since the March release. And, since the project is still in the schematic design phase, the look and location of various spaces in the building could still change. Nonetheless, these images—shown on ARCHITECT for the first time—give a more complete picture of what the design team is imagining for the nation's capital's central library.
Three of these renderings show a design for the staircases at the library's main entrance on G Street NW. This latest batch looks different from the two options presented to the city's Historic Preservation Review Board in January. "The images we have shown [follow] the evolution of thinking around how to create vertical circulation in the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. We have not settled on a final solution," Williams says.
Throughout the design process, DCPL and the design team have released renderings of what the building's first-floor Great Hall could become. This version shows what the hall could look like when filled with several types of programming. Reyes-Gavilan also presented the most detailed rendering so far of the north side of the building, today an alley and loading dock.
The renderings released in March included a look at a first-floor café on the northeast corner of the building. Here's a look at what that café might look like inside. While we don't know if french press coffee will actually be served in the building, it does hint at the vibe the design team is going for.
Another rendering shows an additional area in the children's library. "What we want from our children's room is discrete spaces that will address our needs for the preschool set, versus the school-age set, versus the tween set," Reyes-Gavilan said to ARCHITECT last month.
DCPL also sent a rendering of what is described as a central hall on the third floor.
The March renderings included a look at a space at the fourth and fifth floors configured for a performance. This rendering appears to show the same space set up for an exhibition.
At this point, only a single-floor addition to the building is being considered, perhaps with a café like the one here. Notice the Eames Elephant chairs.
For more information and images about the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library renovation, visit ARCHITECT's Project Gallery.