The Forgotten Memorial: Mies van der Rohe’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in the Nation's Capital

By Stephanie Travis.

Published by The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

DOI: 10.18848/2325-1662/CGP/50223

One of the last, and mostly unknown, buildings that modern master architect Mies van der Rohe designed was his only library project, which opened to the public in 1972. Until 2011, this building—the main branch of the District of Columbia Public Library System—was the only MLK memorial in Washington, DC. This paper explores the building within the context of Mies’ lifetime of work and within the tradition of Washington, DC. It concludes that in a city defined by history and classical architecture, this building has a unique prominence as it symbolizes the work of MLK, the ideals of modern architecture and the International Style, and the growth of Mies’ architectural development throughout his lifetime—an accumulation of his concepts and ideas within the context of the nation’s capital. Thus, the MLKML deserves more significance within Mies’ portfolio of work, the national and international architecture and design community, and MLK’s legacy.

Keywords: Architecture, History, International Style, Library Design, Mies van der Rohe

The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design, Volume 9, Issue 3, September, 2015, pp.27-34. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 875.010KB).

Prof. Stephanie Travis

Director, Associate Professor, Interior Architecture and Design Program, The George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA