I was disappointed that Marc Fisher dismissed the continued public use of the building housing the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in downtown Washington [Metro, Aug. 2].

The library, which opened in 1972, is the only one in our area designed by renowned architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and it is an outstanding example of the nonfederal, cosmopolitan architectural image that Washingtonians sought to project in the late 1960s.

In a glowing 1966 review, Post architectural critic Wolf von Eckardt praised the building as "truly of our time." That same year D.C. Public Library Director Harry N. Peterson declared it "the most functional, the most beautiful and most dramatic library building in the United States, if not in the world."

Changing the scope of the modern library to better resemble the popular gathering places of today, as Mr. Fisher discussed, is a good idea. But tossing old library buildings in the trash is not.

Mr. Fisher might have forgotten that great architectural icons of the District, such as Union Station and the Pension Bureau Building (now home to the National Building Museum), were similarly derided as white elephants best destroyed. Maybe this time we could avoid a fight for preservation and instead address options for revitalizing this notable D.C. building for the next generation of readers.



Recent Past Preservation Network