2024 05 22 Francine Houben honored with NAF Ambassadors' Award 2024 12024 05 22 Francine Houben honored with NAF Ambassadors' Award 2024 2

Francine Houben honoured with 2024 NAF Ambassadors' Award for the renovation of Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

22.05.2024 - Events, Project updates

Francine Houben, Founder and Creative Director of Mecanoo, received the 2024 Netherland-America Foundation Ambassadors' Award on May 15, 2024, at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC. In the presence of the Dutch Ambassador to the US, Birgitta Tazelaar, the award was presented to Houben for her multi-award-winning design of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, DC. Nancy Pelosi surprised the architect, as a member of the US House of Representatives, with a special Commemorative Coin.

During the awards ceremony, Philip Kennicott, architecture critic for The Washington Post and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, delivered a eulogy. He praised the library, which reopened in 2020, as a building of great importance to society: “America's libraries are essential now – and this beautifully renovated library in Washington gives us hope.”

The library, designed in 1972 by Mies van der Rohe, was renovated by Mecanoo with respect for the original architecture. The ideas of Martin Luther King Jr. inspired the design of an open building that symbolizes an inclusive society, in which there is room for everyone, regardless of origin, age, or background.

The design for the renovation and transformation has now been awarded several times, including the prestigious Richard H. Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Award, Historic Preservation 2021. In addition to Houben, Ben Mandemakers of the Mandemakers Group also received a NAF Ambassadors' Award 2024 for his achievements as a self-made entrepreneur.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was one of the founders of the Netherland-America Foundation in 1921. The NAF aims to further strengthen ties between our two countries through exchanges in the arts, science, education, business, and public affairs. The Ambassadors' Award is presented annually to one to five individuals in recognition of their remarkable contributions to society, science, and the promotion of talent.

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