Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

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Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library
This article is about the main public library of Washington, D.C. For others, see Martin Luther King, Jr. Library. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library (MLKML) is the central facility of the District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL). Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed the 400,000 square foot (37,000 m²) steel, brick, and glass structure, and it is a rare example of modern architecture in Washington, D.C.

This library was Mies' last building and his only one ever constructed in Washington, D.C. Additionally, it is the only public library ever designed by Mies. Completed in 1972, the building cost $18 million. The building has been plagued by neglect and problems with its HVAC system. DCPL has recently restored lighting on the entire first floor. DCPL has also recently completed elevator and restroom renovations throughout the building.

Landmark status
On June 28, 2007 the District of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Review Board designated this building a historic landmark. The designation, which applies to the exterior as well as interior spaces, seeks to preserve Mies' original design while allowing the library necessary flexibility to operate as a contemporary library facility. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. Named in honor of the American civil rights leader, the building's lobby includes a large mural of Martin Luther King, Jr. by artist Don Miller. Prior to 1972, Washington's central library was a 1903 Andrew Carnegie-funded building located in Mount Vernon Square. That building was used by the University of the District of Columbia, and is currently occupied by the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.

Special collections
The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library houses several of the library system's special collections. The Washingtoniana collection includes books, newspaper archives, maps, census records, and oral histories related to the city's history with 1.3 million photographs from the Washington Star newspaper and the theatrical video collection of the Washington Area Performing Arts Video Archive. The Black Studies Center was established along with the MLK Library in 1972 to collect documents related to the African diaspora focusing on African American culture.

Building Activity

  • Darren Kowitt
    Darren Kowitt commented
    one does a double take miesian purity in DC? lo! and behold 'tis true not aging well around the edges alas
    about 6 years ago via Mobile
  • Georgi Sokolov
    Georgi Sokolov activity.buildings_person.create
    about 6 years ago via