A Legacy of Mies and King

John Hill
26. October 2020
Photo: Screenshot

A Legacy of Mies and King is a documentary about Mecanoo's renovation of Washington, DC's MLK Memorial Library, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1972 and named for Martin Luther King, Jr. Mecanoo is making the 2017 film available following the reopening of the renovated library on September 24, 2020.

The one-hour film features Mecanoo principal Francine Houben visiting the building before renovation and explaining the Dutch firm's vision for the library. It intersperses this footage with interviews that delve into the legacies of Mies and MLK to provide context for the DC library and its design. The film also features library patrons and employees expressing what they'd like to see in the renovated library. 

With the MLK Memorial Library open with limited capacity, like most libraries during the coronavirus pandemic, it's too early to gauge the library's success from the perspective of users. People will also have to wait to experience the new fifth floor addition and its event space, auditorium, and roof terrace. In the meantime, the film is an illuminating look into an important public building and the many issues that go into its renovation.

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