ML&F, Museum & Library Furniture LLC
Detail of the Gallery Bench, Slat

Ideas and Updates

MLK Library Renovation

Mecanoo, the Dutch architects who are presently working on DC's MLK Library, are cool. This is a good match up and I am enthusiastic about this choice.

My first thought about a MLK Library renovation was "hands off!" Few Washingtonians understand or care about the significance of a Mies van der Rohe original. Nevertheless, it is amazing to come across an intact artifact of Modernism par excellence in the very heart of Washington, DC. No question, the building demands careful treatment in its preservation, whether or not many grasp what an unusual treasure it is. We must face up to the fact that the building desperate needs an expert architect's vision to respectfully intervene to take it purposefully into the future.

No better architect for the job than Francine Houben and Mecanoo, and I will tell you why. Contrast. When the work is complete, there must be no confusion whatsoever about what is original and what is not. Instead of a "sensitive blending" or replication, the library demands a bold intervention, and if Mecanoo design elements stand out from the original, right on. As a DC architect, I eagerly look forward to see what comes our way, and I am fairly certain the architectural brilliance and quality Francine will bring will infuse vitality.

Tom Shiner FAIA