The Martin Luther King Memorial Library (MLK Library) is a four-story steel and glass International-style building in downtown DC, designed by world-famous German-born architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) and completed in 1972. The modern building, designed for use as the city’s central library, is the only example of the architect’s work in the District of Columbia, and is the only library designed by Mies van der Rohe ever constructed. The building, completed after Mies van der Rohe’s death in 1969, is also one of the last buildings designed by him. Ground was broken on the building in 1969, one year after the death of its internationally-acclaimed architect, and the building opened to the public in 1972, after some construction delays.
Designed by one of this century’s most renowned and internationally recognized modernists, the publicly funded building is also an important landmark of International-style architecture in DC, a city known stylistically for its monumental federal architecture reflective of the Beaux Arts classical tradition.
In 2020, the library completed a three and a half year renovation project that included the construction of a rooftop garden, a kid's slide, and a recording studio. The external facade remains intact, and the original yellow brick and a large mural of Martin Luther King Jr remain untouched in the interior.
DC Inventory: June 28, 2007
National Register: October 22, 2007