Richard Reyes-Gavilan, executive director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library appeared at The Kojo Nnamdi Show to discuss Mecanoo and Martinez+Johnson’s plans to modernise the building. During the radio show, he also answered listeners’ questions and shared his ideas of what a local library of the future would look like.
Host Kojo Nnamdi asked him what he had learned from surveying 3,000 DC residents about their wishes. Reyes-Gavilan: “You kind of expect certain things: people want larger children’s rooms that can accommodate modern strollers. And people want spaces for interaction, performance, culture and conversation. And they still want books and they still want reading rooms. But the one thing I wasn’t prepared for… was this incredible concern for doing a better job in honouring the namesake of the building.”
He also explained what he means when describing the plans as delightful: “It’s a place that is really just supposed to create a sense of happiness when you come into the building. How do we measure the success of the library? One of the intangibles is the feeling that one gets when you walk into a free space, or a public space. A space that makes you feel good about yourself, a space that makes you feel proud to live in a certain city, a space where you feel as though there is some optimism and some potential. That’s what I talk about, when I talk about delight and it’s really the antithesis of what we have now.”
Addressing a question from a listener about the outdoor space around the building, Reyes-Gavilan highlighted the improved rooftop: “There is going to be a phenomenal green roof on top of the building for reading, for programming, for gardening, for all sorts of wonderful learning activities.”
Listen to the entire radio interview.