Renovating the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

Two architecture firms were given the task to renovate a public library built by one of the most famous architects of all time, named after one of the most influential men in modern history. No pressure.

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library viewed from the southeast corner. The library's facade features a promotion for Banned Books Week 2016, which had recently taken place.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C. was designed by Mies van der Rohe and completed in 1972. It cost $18m to build and was a rare example of modernist architecture in the capital.

However, maintenance wasn’t kept up and it took 3.5 years to renovate. A documentary examined the modernisation, led by Dutch architects Mecanoo and DC-based OTJ Architects.

The documentary film follows architect Francine Houben as she investigates the past and present in order to design a world-class library. Francine delves into the archives, meets contemporaries of Mies and King, speaks to current visitors of the library, and participates in a Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Peace Walk. During her quest, both the building’s namesake and the original architect look over her shoulder critically.

Now I’m imagining one of those tawdry memes with Martin Luther King and Mies van der Rohe in a cloud looking down with their thumbs up.

Stream it below.

A Legacy of Mies and King - Renovating the Public Library of Washington D.C.

Mies related: Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion

(Image credit: Wikipedia, shared via CC BY-SA 4.0)

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