Don't expect to see this redesign of MLK Library.
Don't expect to see this redesign of MLK Library.

Another day, another vote against a more radical redesign of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. First, it was the Historic Preservation Office that pooh-poohed a proposal for three additional stories atop the city’s central library, intended to generate revenue and offset the renovation costs. Now the library’s board of directors has done the same.

Last night the board voted unanimously in favor of a resolution that would maintain a standalone library with a fifth-floor addition. The extra three stories, the resolution stated, “will not yield sufficient income to defray project costs.” In the absence of a financial upside, there’s little reason to undertake the three-story addition, given opposition from certain community members (including Ralph Nader) and from the historic preservationists.

In October, D.C. Public Library concluded that it would need considerably more space than previously anticipated. The expected requirement of 450,000 square feet necessitates use of the entire four-story building, plus a fifth-floor suite.

There are two competing designs that include just the fifth-floor addition:

The board’s vote just about takes the three-story addition off the table. The ultimate design that the library will submit to the Historic Preservation Review Board will come from the library’s capital construction division, which consists of library staff, but it will be guided by the board’s resolution. “Basically the board’s vote means we will move forward to design a standalone with fifth floor,” says library spokesman George Williams. “The library architects will not design a three-story addition.”

This post has been updated to include a clarification from Williams.

Renderings from DCPL