CFA 15/JUL/10-2


Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial
Independence Avenue, SW, at the northwestern rim of the Tidal Basin
United States

National Park Service
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial
Details for the Inscription Wall - Revised text layout and lighting
Review Type
Previous Review


Dear Ms. O'Dell:

In its meeting of 15 July, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed revised layouts of the inscriptions and details for the lighting of the inscription walls of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial. The Commission members expressed appreciation for the on-site mockup of the lighting proposal provided the previous evening. They noted several concerns with the details for the lighting installation and offered recommendations for revisions to the layout of the inscriptions.

The Commission members acknowledged the adjustment of the inscription text so that individual letters do not intersect the joints of the stone panels. However, they expressed concern about the relationship of each block of text to the sloping upper joint of the wall cap and the placement of the attribution lines in relation to the lower horizontal joint of the panels. The Commission suggested that these relationships should be further studied—particularly at the narrow ends of the wall where the top of the text and the angled joint seem crowded—and that the attribution lines should be set at a consistent distance above the lower horizontal joint to further emphasize the horizontal sweep of the walls.

The Commission members supported the uniform quality of the light cast on the wall, as demonstrated in the mockup; however, they noted the distracting visibility of the lamp fixture in the trough, suggesting that either the glass panel or its bronze frame be modified to shield more of the fixture from view. They discussed several possibilities to accomplish this: widening one side of the bronze frame; inserting a shield between the glass and the fixture; or coating a portion of the bottom of the glass panel with an opaque material. In addition, they recommended simplifying the bronze frame by eliminating the decorative grooves between the anchoring screws. The Commission members also observed that the proposed anti-slip texture on the glass had the appearance of dripping condensation and requested that other textures be considered and submitted for review, along with options addressing the other comments regarding the lighting details.

As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission. Please coordinate with the staff concerning the review of the design elements remaining as part of the final approval of the memorial.


/s/Thomas E. Luebke, AIA

Margaret O'Dell, Regional Director
National Park Service, National Capital Region
1100 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington, DC 20242

cc: Peter May, National Park Service
Dr. Ed Jackson, Jr., Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Project Foundation