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1412 I Street Northwest
Washington, DC, 20005
United States

(202) 333-4480

With a professional working relationship spanning three decades, Gary F Martinez FAIA and Thomas E Johnson FAIA founded Martinez+Johnson Architecture in 1994 to bring their design sensitivities to institutional and cultural projects in urban locations. The 25-architect firm has since established an expertise in three main architectural areas – the restoration and adaptive reuse of historic structures, institutional buildings in urban areas and community settings, and the design and planning of performing arts venues.

Known for a thoughtful design approach to public facilities, M+J develops an intimate understanding of the needs of users, patrons, and operators destined to inhabit the projects of the firm. M+J looks to the future in their design aesthetic even when the context may be firmly rooted in the past and executes creative solutions to facilities both new and historic, where flexibility, ease of operation, and high but versatile performance characteristics are requisite. Venues express aspirational values and goals of the communities within which they are located, and at the same time conform to issues of economic value at the highest levels of environmental sustainability.

MLK Library

 

martin luther king jr memorial library

washington, dc


M+J is currently leading an initiative to renovate and transform Washington’s Central Public Library. A facility originally designed by Mies van der Rohe, it is the modern master’s only realized library and only project in DC. The cultural complex is an internationally important test case of how a landmark modernist structure can be sensitively transformed to accommodate the features and spaces of a 21st century central library.

 

Opportunity

The DC Public Library (DCPL) has largely completed an ambitious initiative to restore, renovate, and in some cases completely rebuild their aging infrastructure. The crowning jewel of this program is the reimaging of the agency’s main library. DCPL considered building a new downtown building on several sites but ultimately chose to renovate the existing building. The library is now a landmarked historic example of the architect’s work and the international style. In general – consequently, changes must be carefully considered. Among the building challenges are 45 years of deferred maintenance, outdated building systems, a failing exterior envelope, and some original design issues that fail to live up to the transparent, open beauty of the building’s concept.

 

Creation

M+J teamed with the Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo Architecten for this undertaking, building upon the latter’s international experience defining the modern central library. M+J participated in a rigorous public dialogue with a wide variety of interested parties that to this day continue to impact the design. M+J has also directed a rigorous entitlements process involving a continuing conversation with city, state, and federal agencies highlighted by regular meetings and public hearings.

The Library’s functions and educational services will be significantly enhanced. The project gave DCPL the opportunity to look at MLK comprehensively such that spaces and activities can now be appropriately located to form a legible sequence through the building. Connections between the four existing floors with three lower levels, a fifth floor addition with a roof garden through bold vertical connections, way finding devices, and natural light enhance the learning and discovery processes essential to the complex. The new building respects traditional library services while celebrating current technology and anticipating future innovation and flexibility. It also recognizes various levels of users and the range of platforms through which they access information.

The new building systems address environmental issues and pursue LEED Silver sustainability standards. Incorporating feedback from interest groups, the new library seeks new levels of “social sustainability,” as well, serving the population of the entire city and surrounding area.


Owner: DC Public Library c/o andrew blumenfeld

Completion: 2020

Size: 450,000SF

Cost: est $160M

 
 
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’S COLLECTIVE RESOURCES PROVIDE FOR A FULL RANGE OF ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN AND RELATED SERVICES FOR THE RENOVATION OF THE LIBRARY...

THEY 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.

- Arch Daily | February 14, 2014
 
 
 

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