Mini Mies

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library is the only building in Washington DC designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.  Designed in 1972, it was his last piece of work before he died at the age of 83 without ever seeing its complete construction.  The 400,000 square foot public library is the central facility of the district’s library system but it has been plagued by mechanical failures for many years.  Mayor Anthony D. Williams and the library board wanted to replace the aged facility with a new building but the DC historic preservationist board sucesfully added the building to the National Record of Historic Places, effectively preventing immediate demolition.   There are tentative plans for renovation, including painting the dark steel facade silver, replacing the tinted glass with clear, and adding an additional floor with roof terrace (an option designed into the original structural frame).

Notice the famous Barcelona Chairs, originally designed by Meis in 1929.

See also: http://thestraighttorquer.com/?p=554

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3 Responses to “Mini Mies”

  1. elizabeth Says:

    I appreciate the allusion to the more contemporary and openly hilarious stylings of Verne Troyer aka MINI ME. In what ways might it be useful to consider Mies and Troyer in an historically syncopated dialectic. Does hilarious Troyer play the critic? What would Dr. Evil say?

    But actually, I love this post. I had no idea there was a mies van der rohe buildings in DC.

  2. JK Says:

    It’s a primary example of a great building undone by its misuse and poor maintenance.

  3. Jo-Ann Neuhaus Says:

    “There are tentative plans for renovation, including painting the dark steel facade silver, replacing the tinted glass with clear, . . . .”

    I must look into this; I was unaware of such plans, but if there are any, I do hope the Historic Preservation Review Board will not allow the steel to be painted silver or any other color or the tinted glass replaced with clear glass.

    I realize having all the facts presented accurately and writing the names of public bodies or lists correctly is a bit of nitpicking, but seeing that you have a following who probably believes that you speak with authority, I wanted to help you where I do know the correct names just in case you need them for future postings.

    “the DC historic preservationist board sucesfully added the building to the National Record of Historic Places . . . .”

    The Historic Preservation Review Board decides if buildings, places, streets, and districts should be designated landmarks locally. I am not sure it holds today, but in the past designated buildings, places, districts, etc. became eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places [note the correct names]. I am guessing you got the local action confused with the National Register. I don’t know if the HBRB staff actually prepared the form for nomination of the Martin Luther King Memorial Library to the National Register, but you are right that it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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