Martin Luther King Memorial
Washington DC,  1999

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a spiritual and social leader and reflective humanitarian offers a living legacy to the nation and the world.

The proposed memorial gives Dr. King’s thought a material existence. His courageous oration rendered as text is the point of departure for the architectural scheme. This would consist of a body of text, (selected in consultation with a committee of scholars,) cut from plate metal and suspended in an arc above a light granite plinth, which acts as a blank slate.

Visitors are engaged both physically and metaphorically by Dr. King’s words, their very weight, subtle sounds, movement, and plays of light offer a continuum between the text and the plinth.

This (physical or tangible) interaction with the body of text provides visitors with an array of experiences:

  • Seeing it written across bodies; the sun filtering through the text and onto visitors.
  • Perceiving the rhythm of Dr. King’s speech translated into a visual form.
  • Having a single letter imprinted on one’s hand.
  • Sensing the text at moments as tangible and at other moments almost imperceptible.
  • Passing through it and watching its form change from intricacy to simplicity, from a plane to a single, nearly invisible line.
  • Listening to the murmur of it, the (suspended) metal text moving slightly, even in the darkness of night.

This arboreal blanket of ideas, transfused by light and interacting with the plinth, continuously changes one’s experiences within the memorial. This creates a setting where Dr. King is given a permanent presence, (but or and) also one that calls upon us to continue his ideals of intelligent reflection and peaceful action.