Mecanoo, Martinez + Johnson Selected to Redesign Mies’ MLK Memorial Library

© Mecanoo with

Mayor Vincent Gray has named Mecanoo architecten and Martinez + Johnson Architecture winners of a competition to reinvent Mies van der Rohe’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library – the only library and D.C. building ever designed by the legendary architect. The Netherlands- and D.C.-based team aims to resurrect the neglected building by improving “Mies in a contemporary Miesian way.” This includes opening up the boxy interiors to enhance flow and increase natural light and, most dramatically, sculpting two rooftop terraces by topping the historic landmark structure with a four-story, mixed-use addition.

We will keep you posted with more details as they come available. In the meantime, scroll through the renderings and presentation that landed Mecanoo and Martinez + Johnson the commission, after the break.

Courtesy of Eli Meir Kaplan
© Mecanoo with Martinez + Johnson Architecture
© Mecanoo with Martinez + Johnson Architecture

“Mecanoo with Martinez+Johnson Architecture presents a unique paring primed to deliver a Next Generation Library project that celebrates MLK’s renowned Miesian architecture while embracing Washington D.C.’s contemporary culture and changing needs,” the team said in an announcement this morning. 

“Our team’s collective resources provide for a full range of Architectural design and related services for the renovation of the library and for entitlements for a possible addition to the building. Within the scope of these services, we will create a new vision for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library that presents innovative opportunities for educational engagement, delivers a comprehensive arrangement that unifies both commercial and library directives, and is an attractive catalyst for community activity.”

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Francine Houben, project led and creative director at Mecanoo who just delivered the Library of Birmingham, the largest in Europe, stated, “We will pay respect to Mies van der Rohe and research what is possible to prepare this building for the Library of the Future. But most important is bringing out the values of Martin Luther King. My dream is to make this building to reflect his ideals. “

View the team’s competition here

Reference: DC Public Library, dcist and NBC4

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "Mecanoo, Martinez + Johnson Selected to Redesign Mies’ MLK Memorial Library" 18 Feb 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>
  • dAsH

    Banality wins the day; both of the other entries were far more intriguing.

  • Micah

    RIP, Mies.

  • Consuelo

    Looking at the presentations saturday, mecanoo and martinez+johnson are by far the one’s with more library concept and experience.
    Francine Houben killed the competition last saturday.
    And the designs are not final, just a proposal. Let’s see what comes next!!