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Posted at 02:48 PM ET, 09/20/2012

A new vision for the MLK Library

UPDATE, 9:25 A.M.: The Post's Philip Kennicott has a more comprehensive look at the new library design and some thoughts about what it means: “The positive news ... is that the library wants to have a conversation about staying in its historic home and isn’t planning to set sail for a new one. ... It would keep the library at the symbolic center of the city, which is right where it should want to be.”

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The D.C. Public Library tonight unveiled renderings of a reimagined Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, our central downtown library.

The design, done for DCPL by the North Carolina-based Freelon Group, implements the concepts contemplated by a blue-ribbon Urban Land Institute panel earlier this year — that is, a thorough overhaul of the existing Ludwig Mies van der Rohe-designed building featuring two new stories that would accommodate high-priced office space that could help finance the project.

My Post colleagues and I will have more on this in the next few days, but check out the first look above — which shows off the new roof addition as well as new outdoor spaces contemplated at ground level. After the jump, a schematic shows the most dramatic change to the current building: a full-height atrium where the existing entry hall now is.

”A world-class, first-class main library for Washington, D.C.,” architect Phil Freelon told DCPL board members this evening.

Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper tells my Capital Business colleague Jonathan O’Connell that the new design makes staying in the current building more appealing: “So many of us who care about Mies design and care about architecture want this building to remain as a library,” she said. “And this would allow that.”

So is it doable? Can the city afford it? Local real estate maven Jair Lynch told the board a full renovation would cost the city $9 to $13 million yearly for 30 years, while setting out several financing options — some of which involve selling the building to a private party and leasing back the library space.

The conversation continues at a D.C. Council hearing on Sept. 27 at 11 a.m. at the John A. Wilson Building.


An interior schematic showing the proposed five-story atrium. (D.C. Public Library)

By  |  02:48 PM ET, 09/20/2012

 
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