The ways in which libraries operate have changed, at times rapidly and radically. Together with our client, DC Public Library, we worked to expand library services in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago, let alone when the structure was initially conceived of.
IIDA MAC Honors MLK Jr. Memorial Library with Pinnacle Award
The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA MAC) recognized our team’s reimagining of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, located in Washington, DC, with both an Award of Merit in the Education category and the sought-after Pinnacle Award.
For 26 consecutive years, this prestigious competition, judged by a team of lauded design professionals from around the country, has honored the best interior projects submitted by Washington, Northern Virginia, Baltimore, and Annapolis firms.
Working in partnership with Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo Architecten, OTJ worked to reimagine the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, a landmark structure originally designed by pioneering modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, as a socially sustainable engine for the 21st-century exchange of knowledge. The design team, supported by a robust college of specialty consultants, engaged stakeholders in a passionate public dialogue to define the library’s direction, examine the structure holistically, and rethink the visitor experience as a cohesive sequence. The renovated library now functions as an agile and equitable community vehicle for the many platforms through which end-users access information.
OTJ Senior Principal and Project Executive Gary Martinez, FAIA, remarked: “The ways in which libraries operate have changed, at times rapidly and radically. Together with our client, DC Public Library, we worked to expand library services in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago, let alone when the structure was initially conceived of.” Accordingly, the project’s materiality honors the legacies of both architect Mies van der Rohe and Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through the artful juxtaposition of contrasting design idioms. A central slatted, curvilinear wood form stands as a humanizing contrast to the distinctive rectilinear glass and steel of van der Rohe’s structure. The four existing lower floors are now connected to a fifth-floor addition and a rooftop garden via bold, sculptural staircases and intuitive wayfinding devices, forming a more legible route through the building. While the program respects traditional library services, additional elements include a state-of-the-art maker space, ground-level indoor/outdoor café, as well as a children’s library complete with multi-level slide.
Adds Lance Jaccard, OTJ Chief Executive Officer: “We’re thrilled to see our work honored by our industry peers. We were privileged to work with both an exceptional client and team and ultimately create a space that honors Dr. King’s legacy while celebrating the structure’s landmark status in our capital.” This year’s IIDA MAC awards competition drew an exceptional number of superlative entries with projects ranging from less than 10,000 to over 100,000 square feet.