New Central Library Plans ‘Shelved’

DCPL WA Col40 B7 out0002 b.JPG

According to the Examiner, the DC Public Library has launched $2 million in renovations to Washington’s central MLK Library, including such much-needed improvements as revamped bathrooms and elevators, new lighting, and new computers. Meanwhile, the Fenty administration tells the paper plans for a new downtown library have been shelved — for now. Elsewhere progress marches on: Rockville’s new library will contain 200,000 books in a new, 71,500 square foot state-of-the-art building. While the repairs at the MLK Library are badly needed, the entire structure needs an overhaul to address serious needs such as the ailing HVAC system and obsolete floor plans.

> Examiner: “D.C. Public Library to Begin Renovations at MLK Memorial

> The photo was taken shortly after the library opened in 1972. For more on library history see my previous post: What Will be the Fate of Washington’s MLK Library?

Author: Rob Goodspeed


  1. The HPRB voted to approve the landmark designation for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library this morning. This was an action I’ve been working towards for seven years. The building is now protected from demolition, and the exterior and first floor public areas are protected from inappropriate alteration. In addition, the HPO staff will develop design guidelines for renovations or redevelopment that respect the elevator cabs, fourth floor director’s suite (the only spaces in the building that still have original furniture), and other aspects.

    Congratulations to the DC preservation and library communities for their efforts leading to this historic day.

  2. I don’t mind the ugly dingy building as much as the urine-stenched back stairs and tiny dark elevators you’re forced to take to go upstairs. A proper library always has a grand staircase. I think Mies van der Rohe was really dissing DC when he bestowed that ugly black mass of rusting steel on us.

  3. The article in the Examiner was rather bizarre, since much of the renovations being promoted have already been completed (at least at MLKML).
    The landmarking of MLKML is regrettable. MLKML has never functioned well as a library and the allocation of interior space is not conducive to the needs of a library–either for bookshelves, study space, reference interaction space, staff workspace, and simple travel around the library. And the abomination that the AIA/Cooper plan was would only have made things worse (sorry to mince words).

Comments are closed.