The District of Columbia Public Library has decided it will need more space than it originally thought in its downtown main branch, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. And that means one possible configuration for its renovation and expansion—a proposal by the architectural team of Mecanoo and Martinez + Johnson to add an oblique three-story addition on top of the modernist box—is no longer on the drawing boards. After assessing the library’s needs, the Library board decided that it wanted more space for library programs, which has in turn changed its thinking about the mix of residential and commercial uses.
When Mecanoo and Martinez + Johnson won a competition to renovate and possibly expand the main branch, which has fallen into disrepair, among their proposals was a possible mixed-use building with a substantial residential component and a dramatic, contemporary addition turned on an angle from the main building. But that depended on the library making a decision about what the right mix of library and non-library uses should be.
Now the plan is for a one-floor expansion, without residential units, and with more of the existing space devoted to library needs. The new top floor will include a terrace and areas for reading and other library programs. ….