In 2007 the Society approached the School of Architecture at the
University of Notre Dame about pegging a design studio to the expansion and renovation of the old Carnegie Library Building in downtown Washington. This beaux-arts landmark ceased to serve as the city’s main public library in 1972, being supplanted by a much larger Mies van der Rohe-designed facility.
The Carnegie is now occupied by the Historical Society of Washington, DC. But there is general agreement that the building fails to adequately exploit its spacious, high-profile downtown site, Mount Vernon Square, while the Mies building has proven unpopular with library users and staff alike. City leaders have discussed the possibility of moving the main library branch back into an enlarged and improved Carnegie building.
Notre Dame architecture professor David Mayernik took an interest in the site and arranged for his Fall 2007 first-year graduate studio to focus on designing the Carnegie’s expansion in a sympathetic classical manner. The design studio focused on improving the building as opposed to settling the issue of its future institutional use.
The Society hosted Professor Mayernik and his seven students at a dinner in October. A lively and productive discussion of various aspects of the design problem resulted. On the morning of December 12, a jury review of the student designs took place at the Carnegie building. Merrick T. Malone, chair of the Historical Society’s board of trustees, graciously agreed to serve on the review panel. After lunch, the student work was exhibited to the public in the Carnegie building, and that evening the Society hosted a private reception for Professor Mayernik and his students at which the designs were again displayed to an enthusiastic audience.