mecanoo releases film documenting its overhaul of mies van der rohe’s MLK library

By 17th October 2020International News

in 2014, dutch studio mecanoo announced that it was undertaking a major overhaul of the mies van der rohe-designed ‘martin luther king jr. memorial library’ in washington DC. although the library officially opened in september 2020, only a few areas are currently open to the public due to the pandemic. ahead of the project’s full unveiling, mecanoo has shared a documentary on the project that was written, filmed, and directed by nienke andersson. viewable at the top of this page, the hour-long movie follows francine houben — mecanoo’s creative director and founding partner — as she investigates the past and present in order to design a world-class library.

mecanoo MLK librarydifferent atmospheres on each floor are visible externally

in developing the scheme, mecanoo worked with local partner OTJ architects to generate a plan that will add 9,300 square meters of additional space for the public — including a rooftop events venue with a landscaped terrace. the glazed perimeter is now for people rather than books, while at ground level, a café has a patio terrace sheltered by the building’s continuous arcade.

mecanoo releases film documenting its overhaul of mies van der rohe's MLK library
upon entering the building, visitors are welcomed into the great hall

visitors to the renovated building will enjoy a new, transparent entryway and a sculptural stairwell, alongside other facilities that include: a large auditorium and conference center, creative fabrication labs, an interactive children’s space, an expanded special collections areas for researchers, and a double-height reading room.

mecanoo releases film documenting its overhaul of mies van der rohe's MLK library
the children’s library is designed to appeal to youngsters of all ages

fly thru video

mecanoo releases film documenting its overhaul of mies van der rohe's MLK library
community alliances offer a variety of public services

mecanoo MLK library
the great reading room is positioned between the third and fourth floors

mecanoo MLK library
a two-story auditorium will be inserted into the center of the building

mecanoo MLK library
the auditorium spans the fourth and fifth floors

mecanoo releases film documenting its overhaul of mies van der rohe's MLK library
new stairwells are the principal means of vertical circulation

mecanoo releases film documenting its overhaul of mies van der rohe's MLK library
the public terrace on the roof engages with the surrounding city

mecanoo releases film documenting its overhaul of mies van der rohe's MLK library
the building originally opened in 1972

mecanoo-martin-luther-king-jr-memorial-library-washington-designboom-12
the glazed perimeter of the second floor is for people rather than books
(click for larger version)

mecanoo-martin-luther-king-jr-memorial-library-washington-designboom-12
the additional fifth floor with auditorium (280 seats), event space, and public roof terrace
(click for larger version)

project info:

size: 37,000 sqm
status: ongoing
project design: 2014 – 2016
project realisation: 2017 – 2020
address: 901 G street NW, washington D.C., USA
client: district of columbia public library
design team: mecanoo, OTJ architects
program: 37,000 sqm library renovation (design, mies van der rohe) including children’s library, teen space, digital commons, DC welcome center, conference center, special collections archives, exhibition and performance spaces, fabrication lab, creative lab, auditorium (300 seats), events space, café, and roof garden

film info:

title: a legacy of mies and king
written, filmed, and directed by: nienke andersson
music and sound engineering: KH music
funded by: the society of arts of the royal netherlands academy of arts and sciences in collaboration with mecanoo

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philip stevens I designboom

oct 16, 2020