CFA 17/FEB/11-1


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
Revised designs for inscription wall lighting and plaza paving surrounding the support building
Review Type


Dear Ms. O'Dell:

In its meeting of 17 February, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the submission from the National Park Service for proposed revisions to the final design for several features of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial at the Tidal Basin and Independence Avenue, SW. The Commission members expressed appreciation for the opportunity to inspect the memorial's construction progress and the mockup of the proposed lighting on the evening before the meeting; they commented on the impressive character of the memorial as it nears completion, and noted particularly its attractiveness as a night destination for visitors.

The Commission approved the revisions to the design of the lighting trough along the Inscription Wall with several recommendations for further improvement. The Commission members noted the bright line along the glass surface caused by the light reflection from the bronze framing below and recommended eliminating this distraction through further treatment of the metal surface. They also observed that the color of the light is too cool in the context of the memorial's materials, recommending that a lamp with a slightly warmer color be selected. They approved the revised alignment of the lighting trough and stone paving, and encouraged the selection of a light fixture dimension that is consistent with the modules of the masonry and trough cover. The Commission also approved the slight enlargement of the plaza for the auxiliary building and recommended that Georgia granite be used as an apron around the base of the building; for the remainder of the plaza, ramp, and crosswalk, either granite or concrete may be used at the discretion of the project team.

Noting the potential impact of ambient lighting on the perception of the inscription wall, the Commission members requested the opportunity to review a more extensive lighting mockup that includes additional light sources and addresses their recommendations. As always, the staff is available to assist you.


/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA

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