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Remembering Mies van der Rohe's Influence on DC via Iconic MLK Library

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With steel and glass, German-born architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe helped define modern architecture by using a "less is more" approach. He single-handedly pioneered Chicago's second generation of architects by integrating a back-to-basics education into the Illinois Institute of Technology's architecture school. Today, March 27, marks his 129th birthday, and all across the Curbediverse, we will be celebrating his works from the Farnsworth House in Chicago to the Seagram Building in New York. While most of his contributions were centered in Chicago, he did have one contribution to Washington, D.C. that is incapable of being overlooked: the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library. As the only public library he ever designed, the MLK Library was built to serve as Washington, D.C.'s central library in the "heart of the business district." When Mies was chosen to design the building, architect Louis Justement described the decision as a "great mistake," arguing that a local architect should be the designer for Washington's central library. When Mies presented his idea in February 1966, though, D.C. Public Library director Harry Peterson said, "This is the most functional, the most beautiful, and most dramatic library building in the United States, if not in the world."

The uncertain future of the MLK Library. >>