On March 1, 2017 at 6.30 pm, the documentary film “A Legacy of Mies and King” will screen at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington DC. A Q&A with Francine Houben and DC Public Library executive director Richard Reyes-Gavilan will follow the screening.
What do you do with a library designed in the sixties by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and named after Martin Luther King, Jr.? This was the question Francine Houben, creative director of Mecanoo Architecten, had to answer when she was commissioned to give Washington, D.C.’s central library a new future.
“A Legacy of Mies and King,” follows architect Francine Houben as she investigates the past and present in order to design a world-class library of the future. Francine delves into the archives, meets contemporaries of Mies and King, speaks to current visitors of the library, and participates in a Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Peace Walk. During her quest, both the building’s namesake and the original architect look over her shoulder critically.
Francine Houben (1955) began to formulate the three fundamental concepts of her architectural vision whilst studying at the Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. Designing primarily for “People,” constructing spaces that are relevant to a “Place,” and forging connections that give a building “Purpose” have remained consistent, underlying values to Mecanoo’s practice over the past three decades. Always seeking inspiration in the details of specific sites and locations, Francine bases her work on precise analysis coupled with an intuition built over three decades. She interweaves social, technical, playful and human aspects of space-making together in order to create a unique solution to each architectural challenge. Francine combines the disciplines of architecture, urban planning, and landscape architecture in an untraditional way, with a profound sensitivity for light and beauty. Her use of materials, which often contrast in a complementary way, are the sum total of her creative expression.
Houben was named the Woman Architect of the Year in 2014 by the Architects’ Journal in the U.K. Among her projects are the Library of Birmingham, the Delft Railway Station and the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Boston. She is currently at work on the renovation of the main branch of the New York Public Library.