CFA 17/JUN/10-1


Dr. 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
Review Type
Previous Review


Dear Ms. O'Dell:

At its meeting of 17 June, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed design details of the inscription walls for the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial. The Commission members expressed appreciation for the site visit they made prior to the meeting to view the mockup of a segment of an inscription wall; they noted several concerns with the proposed details and offered recommendations for a revised submission.

The Commission members noted the magnificent horizontal sweep and strong presence of the concrete structure for the inscription wall seen at the site visit, and commented on the need to emphasize this horizontal quality through the detailing of the finished surfaces. To express the horizontality of the wall and to avoid calling attention to the individual stone panels, they recommended exploring the option of filling the vertical joints between the panels. They also recommended adjusting the layout of the text to introduce asymmetry as part of each quotation rather than localized symmetry as presented; this would support a broader compositional unity across the full length of the wall and provide the flexibility to eliminate the awkward placement of letters across the stone joints.

The Commission members appreciated the opportunity to inspect the mockup of the treatment of the ground plane in conjunction with the inscription wall. They recommended aligning the paving joints at the base of the wall with the vertical joints between wall panels. They further recommended minimizing the bronze frames of the glass lighting cover, particularly in the cross-framing pieces to emphasize the continuity of the long curve.

Noting that the text of the actual quotations will affect the specific layout and detailing of the inscriptions, the Commission members anticipate reviewing the proposed selection of quotations as soon as possible. They also look forward to seeing an on-site mockup of the lighting proposal and a revised submission of the inscription wall details at your convenience.

As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.


/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