A beacon of hope—the Columbus Metropolitan Library Martin Luther King Branch uplifts and empowers the neighborhood it serves.
Located in King-Lincoln Bronzeville—a historically African American Neighborhood—the new library provides critical educational and social resources to the community, flipping the script of economic decline.
The library is walkable from both the elementary and high schools, making it accessible to children and those without access to transportation.
Designed with the teachings of Dr. MLK in mind, the library operates as a service center, offering critical resources to children and their families such as after-school care and homework help programs.
39% of neighborhood residents do not have access to a stable internet connection, and 11% have no internet at all. The large computer room provides free internet access—a vital resource for the community to study, pay bills or search for jobs.
Honoring the Legacy
As the first branch library in the United States to be named after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the design is a metaphorical response to the MLK monument in Washington D.C. that reads: out of a mountain of sorrow, a stone of hope.
In addition to honoring the work of Dr. King, the branch emphasizes African and African American history, heritage, and culture by displaying a collection of art and artifacts throughout the space.
Investing in Kids
Research indicates that children who are exposed to natural light during the day have better regulated circadian rhythms, leading to better sleep and a greater ability to focus on academics. The building design maximizes daylighting strategies, placing children’s programs along the front façade.
30% of Black residents in Franklin County live below the poverty line and do not have access to affordable daycare. Providing a space for kids to play games and find age-appropriate reading resources enables parents to search for and maintain stable employment.
Connecting the Community
The design goal of the library is to embody connection, empowering people to come together to facilitate positive change. Historically, front porches were a place of engaging with the social happenings of a neighborhood. As poverty and economic decline overcame the neighborhood, residents no longer activated their porches and instead, retreated inside.
The new library takes visual cues from neighboring homes, with a front porch that invites residents to come outside and engage with one another—a visual statement transitioning from residential to community space.