On the DC Preservation League's Most Endangered Places for 2004.
The District of Columbia’s central public library, designed by Modern master Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and completed in 1972, is the only building in Washington, DC by any of the ‘big three’ (Mies, Wright, and Le Corbusier) Modernist architects. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library has stood as the only monument to Dr. King in the nation’s capital for the past 30 years. It holds special significance to the millions of Washingtonians who have come to the library over the past decades to participate in a wide variety of programs and activities, and is a center of community life in the District. The library, the only one ever designed by Mies, was constructed with a flexible interior plan and the capacity to add a fifth story when needed. These measures were taken to ensure the building could continue to serve its intended purpose for approximately 150 years. But because of three decades of lack of preventive maintenance and system upgrades, and despite a concept plan for an extensive renovation that would cost half as much as a new building, the District government’s plans for the library are uncertain.