Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A call to action: Call on DC City Council to create a Citizens Task Force on the Future of DC's Central Library

Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Washington, DC
From Robin Diener of the DC Library Renaissance Project:

Dear Library Friends and Advocates:

As you may know, DC Library Renaissance Project has been calling for a Citizens Task Force on the Future of MLK since the central library debacle of 2006. My local ANC2B passed a resolution for Citizens task Force MLK in 2008, but the Library responded that it was "premature."

Suddenly now, we find $100 million in the capital budget for MLK for 2017-18. Task Force no longer premature! In February, my ANC re-sent its resolution, but has been ignored.

We need a Citizens Task Force to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to plan for the central library that we, as a city, want and need, now and for the future. Use the link below to send a note to DC Council Chair Mendelson, Library Chair Catania, and others, to ask that a Citizens Task Force be written into the Budget Support Act during Council's final vote on Tuesday. There is already $4 million for Library planning in the budget, and a Task Force would be a fraction of that.

Just so you know, ideas that are being floated call for a smaller library (two levels), with no public parking, and additional privatized floors of offices built on top. Must we privatize part of MLK in order to modernize it? Public-public opportunities are being ignored. There is $40 million in the budget for a new DC Archives -- without a location! City Archives would pair perfectly with the mission of the central library -- and, in fact, the city of Vancouver recently decided to move its Archives onto its top two floors (of nine!).

These kinds of questions are best decided by the library going public. Please take a moment to send a note using this link

Thank you for weighing in!! Please, do not hesitate to call me if you have question or concerns about this matter.

Robin Diener
202 431-9254

Past blog entries on this general topic include:

- The DC Central Library, the Civic identity and the public realm

- Central Library Planning efforts and the City Museum, how about some learning from Augusta, Maine ... and Baltimore?

- The Salt Lake City Central Library is absolutely incredible (although in a conversation about this building after I wrote this, an architect made a good point--and my post focused on the interior program of the building, not the general program for the site--that the building still says f.u. to the outside world beyond the footprint of the building and makes no attempt to complement the city hall building and square across the street).

- The layering effect: how the building blocks of an integrated public realm set the stage for community building and Silver Spring, Maryland as an example

- this entry is really mis-titled, as it is about the provision of public spaces and flexible community space in the context of a planning regime that is mostly driven by for profit actors, Community cleanups (and other activities) as community building and civic engagement activities

Originally, this block of G Street NW in front of the library was set up as a pedestrian mall.  During the many years when Downtown was hurting for business and activity, this area was mostly frequented by homeless people.
Pedestrian mall, Martin Luther King Library, DC

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