Funding a Design Competition for Cleveland Public Library’s New MLK Jr. Branch

Arial shot of Greater University Circle buildings

Cleveland Public Library (CPL) has the opportunity to construct a brand new Martin Luther King Jr. branch in Greater University Circle, and an iconic design is a priority for its plans. We’re excited to be involved in this project – and continue our commitment to thoughtful development in Greater University Circle – with a $93,000 grant to CPL for an architectural design competition to spur innovative ideas and attract visionary architects.

The new library, which will replace the existing branch at 1962 Stokes Blvd., will be located in a highly visible site along the north side of Euclid Ave. between E. 105th St. and Stokes Blvd. Due to the significance of the branch and of Dr. King, CPL is committed to designing an iconic, unique building that could serve as a model for the library of the future.

“It is our experience that new ideas and innovations can emerge from design competitions that can profoundly shape the direction and desired outcomes of a significant project like this one,” said Lillian Kuri, our vice president for strategic grantmaking, arts & urban design initiatives. “We are pleased to partner with Cleveland Public Library to launch a community process and design competition that will put Cleveland at the forefront of the future of libraries in America.”

About the design competition process

The design brief and request for qualifications are available here. Responses to the request for qualifications are due Nov. 27. An evaluation committee will review submissions, with three firms invited and paid to present concepts. The library’s board of trustees will then select one firm to implement the winning design. The library hopes to sign a contract with the winning firm by June and start construction in 2019.

Firms selected to develop proposals will be given guidance regarding goals, opportunities, constraints, and neighborhood context for the project. LAND Studio will partner in the management of the design competition, and Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC) will help connect nearby students and residents with the opportunity to share ideas for the 21st century library branch.

Continuing our commitment to Greater University Circle 

Our involvement in this project builds on our longstanding commitment to a vibrant Greater University Circle. Since 2005, we’ve led the Greater University Circle Initiative (GUCI), which has promoted physical development strategies including the completion of the UpTown District, and three transit projects: the reconfiguration of East 105th & MLK; Cedar Hill Red Line RTA Station and the Little Italy-University Circle RTA Station. Other GUCI efforts have included targeted investment in Circle North, Little Italy and in the Health-Tech Corridor and adjoining neighborhoods.

In 2016, we sponsored a similar design competition to create ideas and select the firm for Case Western Reserve University’s Nord Family Greenway, which is adjacent to the proposed site of the new library. And now, we look forward to following the progress of this competition and the construction of CPL’s new branch, which promises to be a spectacular addition to the Greater University Circle landscape!