Cleveland Foundation announces grant for new Cleveland Public Library/Martin Luther King, Jr. Branch design competition

Project to reflect the legacies of Dr. King and the surrounding Greater University Circle neighborhoods

Release Date: 10.16.2017

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Foundation board of directors today announced a $93,000 grant to Cleveland Public Library (CPL) for an architectural design competition for its new Martin Luther King, Jr. Branch.

A proposed mixed-use development on the former police station and current library site in Greater University Circle – as well as green space across Stokes Boulevard – has provided CPL with the opportunity to construct a brand new MLK Branch. 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.

“Our hope is that this new building will join and contribute to University Circle’s architectural renaissance while honoring the legacy of Dr. King,” said Felton Thomas, Cleveland Public Library executive director & CEO. “Importantly, it will also fulfill the current and future needs of the neighborhoods it serves.”

With grant support from the Cleveland Foundation, CPL will host a design competition to spur innovative ideas and to attract visionary architects. Firms selected to develop proposals will be given guidance regarding goals, opportunities, constraints and the neighborhood context for this project. LAND studio will partner in the management of the design competition, while Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative will help connect nearby students and residents with the opportunity to share ideas for this 21st century library branch.

“We have a longstanding relationship with the Cleveland Public Library and are excited to continue it with a project of this magnitude,” said Gregory Peckham, LAND studio executive director. “From the BookBox to the Eastman Reading Garden, the Library’s leadership have always been willing to explore new ideas while ensuring the community is at the forefront of its mission.”

A Design Brief and Request for Qualifications will be issued and an evaluation committee will review the submissions, with three firms invited and paid to present concepts. One firm will then be selected by the Library’s Board of Trustees to implement the winning design. The Cleveland Foundation sponsored a similar design competition process to create ideas and select the firm for Case Western Reserve University’s Nord Family Greenway adjacent to the proposed site of the new library.

“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, Cleveland Foundation 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.”

The Library hopes to have the winning design selected in June of 2018 and start construction in 2019. A copy of the Design Brief and Request for Qualifications is available at

About the Cleveland Foundation: Established in 1914, the Cleveland Foundation is the world’s first community foundation and one of the largest today, with assets of $2.13 billion and 2016 grants of $93.6 million. Through the generosity of donors, the foundation improves the lives of residents of Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties by building community endowment, addressing needs through grantmaking and providing leadership on vital issues. The foundation tackles the community’s priority areas – education and youth development, neighborhoods, health and human services, arts and culture and economic development – and responds to the community’s needs.

For more information on the Cleveland Foundation, visit and follow us on Facebook (/ClevelandFoundation), Twitter (@CleveFoundation) and Instagram (@CleveFoundation).

About Cleveland Public Library: Cleveland Public Library is the “People’s University,” the center of learning for a diverse and inclusive community. Founded in 1869, CPL serves the residents of Cleveland through its network of 27 neighborhood branches, the Main Library downtown, Public Administration Library at City Hall, delivery to the homebound, and mobile services to daycare and senior centers. From a collection of 10.5 million items, CPL lends over 5 million items a year to its 330,000 registered borrowers and to 43 other CLEVNET-member libraries in 12 counties across northeast Ohio. CPL is home to the Ohio Center for the Book and the Ohio Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled, serving all 88 counties in the state. For more information, visit

About LAND studio: LAND studio is a nonprofit that identifies, creates, and implements a public space vision in the city of Cleveland.  The organization works towards a goal of transforming and revitalizing the city by filling it with vibrant places that unite, inspire, and enrich its people.  To learn more visit