Drawing on the partners' experience of working together for over twenty years, M+J has established an expertise in three main areas: live entertainment facilities, adaptive reuse of historic structures, and commercial buildings in urban areas.
M+J is currently leading an initiative to renovate and transform Washington’s Central Public Library. A facility originally designed by Mies van der Rohe, it is the modern master’s only realized library and only project in DC. The cultural complex is an internationally important test case of how a landmark modernist structure can be sensitively transformed to accommodate the features and spaces of a 21st century central library.
The DC Public Library (DCPL) has largely completed an ambitious initiative to restore, renovate, and in some cases completely rebuild their aging infrastructure. The crowning jewel of this program is the reimagining of the agency’s scholastic center. DCPL considered building a new downtown building on several sites but ultimately chose to renovate the existing building. The library is now a landmarked historic example of the architect’s work and the international style in general – consequently, changes must be carefully considered. Among the building challenges are 40 years of deferred maintenance, outdated building systems, a failing exterior envelope, and some original design issues that fail to live up to the transparent, open beauty of the building’s concept.
M+J teamed with the Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo for this undertaking, building upon the latter’s international experience defining the modern central library. M+J participated in a rigorous public dialogue with a wide variety of interested parties that continues to impact the design. M+J has also directed a rigorous entitlements process involving a continuing conversation with city, state, and federal agencies highlighted by regular meetings and public hearings.
The Library’s functions and educational services will be significantly enhanced. The project gave DCPL the opportunity to look at MLK comprehensively such that spaces and activities can now be appropriately located to form a legible route through the building. Connections between the four existing floors with lower levels, a fifth floor addition, and a roof garden through bold vertical connections, way finding devices, and natural light enhance the learning and discovery processes essential to the complex. The new building respects traditional library services while celebrating current technology and anticipating future innovation. It also recognizes various levels of users and the range of platforms through which they access information.
The new building systems address environmental issues and pursue LEED Gold sustainability standards. Incorporating feedback from interest groups, the new library seeks new levels of “social sustainability,” as well, serving the population of the entire city and surrounding area.
Martinez+Johnson Architecture worked with Aude Shand & Williams and the City of St. Petersburg to develop a plan and schedule for Front and Back of House improvements to the 2300-seat auditorium including theatrical and lighting improvements and orchestra shell. The work is intended to facilitate theatre operations and the patron experience with an implementation schedule phased to accommodate symphonic and touring Broadway presentations without closing the hall originally built in the 1960's.
Immediately following a catastrophic flood, M+J was hired to restore this historic theatre. The project entailed the restoration of the historic theatre, expansion of performance capabilities, and an addition that provides front and back of house support.
M+J most recently completed effort came from working alongside Cedar Rapids-based OPN Architects in an effort to restore the historic Paramount Theatre, an excellent example of American movie palace architecture, extensively damaged by a catastrophic 2008 flood. The project entailed the restoration of the theatre, expansion of performance capabilities, and an addition that provides front and back of house support.
Restoration followed the Secretary of the Interior‘s Standards, that call for the identifying, retaining, and preserving of the form and character defining features and materials including the recovery of missing features through historic research, historic photographs, and 2D / 3D laser scanning recordation of all building interiors and exterior. In the theatre and patron areas, existing finishes and features have been retained, and deteriorated historic features were repaired. Where the severity of deterioration required replacement of materials and distinctive features, new features were designed and built to match the old in aesthetics, color, texture, and materials.
The auditorium was completely reseated and architectural acoustics addressed for the facility’s primary user, Symphony Iowa, as well as for touring musical and theatrical product. Historic surfaces were modified for reflectivity, variable acoustical devices were installed for better absorption, and a reflector and orchestra shell were installed to provide excellent acoustics. The organ, one of the truly special features of the theatre, was restored with a new lift configuration constructed in a new, variably sized pit.
The lower level was rebuilt with a new lobby, bar, and public bathrooms and the “annex” space, designed by OPN, expanded the historic public gathering spaces and now offers amenities that were designed to increase programming and operational opportunities.