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Dont expect to see this downtown.t expect to see this downtown.

D.C.’s central library is set for an upgrade. And now we’re starting to get a sense of what it might look like.

Today D.C. Public Library released preliminary design renderings of the post-renovation version of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. The 1972 library, designed by famed modernist Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, is in need of an overhaul but will have to have its historic exterior preserved. That’s the challenge faced by Netherlands-based Mecanoo and D.C.-based Martinez & Johnson, the architects selected in February to design the new library.

At a community meeting at the library on Monday, the architects will walk the public through their preliminary designs. Those designs include more public space around the exterior of the building, as well as stairwells that are opened up to view. According to the firms’ proposal submitted to the city, their design ideas feature a “bookstore/cafe” similar to Dupont Circle’s Kramerbooks, a “coffee/ bar/restaurant” on the ground floor, a “Mies restaurant,” and a “Mies cafe and roof garden.” 

Here’s what it all might look like, according to the architects:

The main entrance:

The view from G Street NW:

A cross-section of the library:

The interior:

The public space in the rear of the library, on G Place NW:

The “Cafe Mies” in front of the library:


Renderings courtesy of D.C. Public Library