Here’s an update on the potential fate of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in downtown Washington D.C., the architect’s only library.
As with many of Mies’ buildings lately, it needs restoration. But the cost of upkeep has forced community members to look at multiple options, including re-using the space for non-library purposes. The Urban Land Institute gathered a panel, which met in fall of 2011, and their final report is now public.
In the report, they conclude the better-than-average economic conditions in D.C. make an expensive rehabilitation possible - with the end goal being “a library of the future.” However, none of their recommendations include retaining the library function for the entire building.
Who knows what the future holds? Especially if we can someday provide low-income and homeless people with infinite information on demand (via hologram, of course). But that’s just another Star Trek episode (or federal program) waiting to happen. Until then, the panel made these suggestions:
1.) Add more floors for more tenants to get more money
2.) Move library operations entirely and rethink the use of Mies’ structure
Either option is anticipated to cost less than the $200 million-plus expense to restore the library to its original state. And, as if giving a nod to Mies in heaven (or wherever he is), they conclude their report with flattery:
“Mies was a pioneering architect who envisioned buildings that were at once bold but flexible from a functional perspective.”
As long as his fans approve…› Read more