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Posted at 09:49 AM ET, 04/01/2013

A shiny new MLK library? Not quite.

Mayor Vincent Gray’s proposed D.C. budget includes $100 million to renovate the Martin Luther King Jr. library. It’s in awful shape and needs to be either renovated or replaced, so it’s nice to see that become a priority.

A rendering of planned renovations for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in the District. (D.C. Public Library)
But I’m amused by the rendering of the proposed renovation. Isn’t it nice? The building is literally glowing. It’s a beacon of lightness amidst dark and dreary surroundings. Such simplicity! Such grace! Not at all like the ugly reality.

Granted, the point of the renovation is to make that ugly reality better. And the renovation will almost certainly result in a much better library, at least once you’re inside. But most of the visible changes are to the new floors added at the top of the building; the bottom four floors won’t look much different from today.

It’s worth remembering that renderings are intended to present buildings as nicely as possible. It’s also worth remembering that the scale of details necessary to make a 200 foot long building interesting while you’re walking beside it are dramatically different from the scale of details necessary to make a six-inch rendering look clean.

Dan Malouff is an Arlington County transportation planner who blogs independently at The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By  |  09:49 AM ET, 04/01/2013

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