Imagining the MLK Library of the Future
When I reported on Friday that the D.C. Public Library had short-listed 10 architectural firms to redesign the aging Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, a few architecture insiders reacted with surprise to the list. "Whoa REX and OMA," tweeted architecture writer Amanda Kolson Hurley, referring to the firms of global starchitects Joshua Prince-Ramus and Rem Koolhaas. "Shocked to see REX and OMA here," agreed Architect magazine senior editor (and Washington City Paper contributor) Kriston Capps.
Already, the Ralph Nader-founded Library Renaissance Project has begun expressing its opposition to the expected mixed-use redevelopment of the library. The group got a boost last week when its director, Robin Diener, helped sign up dozens of supporters as members of the MLK Library Friends to elect her as that organization's president, defeating the incumbent and founder.
If the short-listed architectural firms' past work is any indication, perhaps Nader, Diener, and co. are right to be wary. I've taken the liberty of transplanting four of the firms' earlier projects onto the G Street NW site, and they look, well, rather eye-popping.
First, here's how the street looks now (or rather, as of June 2011, when Google Maps captured it):
And here's how it'd look with the stamp of these four firms: