Launch Slideshow

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial

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    Hochlander Davis Photography

    A view of the Martin Luther King Jr. National  Memorial site.

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    Randy Burkett Lighting Design

    Site Plan.

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    Hochlander Davis Photography

    The forecourt entry with a view across the Tidal  Basin to the Jefferson Memorial beyond.

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    Hochlander Davis Photography

    The forecourt entry at night. White-light LED  fixtures line the underside of the concealed cove that illuminates the walkway.

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    Hochlander Davis Photography

    Dr. King’s silhouette emerges from the block of granite referred to at the Stone of Hope.

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    Randy Burkett Lighting Design

    Dr. King’s silhouette in the Stone of Hope as seen at night. The 3-dimensional quality of the sculpture is enriched through the creative application of highlights and shadows using various beam shaping devices.

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    Randy Burkett Lighting Design

    Visitors to the site at night.

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    Ron Solomon Photography

    A view of the site at night with the Inscription  Wall to the left and the granite block, the Mountain of Despair and the Stone  of Hope, in the distance.

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    Hochlander Davis Photography

    The Inscription Wall as seen during the day. It  features quotations from Dr. King's speeches from 1955 to 1968 on the subjects  of justice, democracy, hope, and love.

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    Randy Burkett Lighting Design

    A section at the Inscription Wall. A T5HO  asymmetric luminaire concealed in an in-ground trough along the base of the  wall uplights the carved inscriptions.

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    Ron Solomon Photography

    The Inscription Wall at night.

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    Randy Burkett Lighting Design

    A detail of Dr. King’s silhouette in the Stone of Hope as seen at night.

Located on the northwest edge of the Tidal Basin, which is part of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial sits directly on the axis between the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. This tribute to King, which opened in Fall 2011, celebrates the ideals that he stood for—freedom and justice.

To light the most recognizable feature of the site, the Stone of Hope—the three-dimensional form of King that looks out over the Tidal Basin—the lighting designers, David Mintz with Randy Burkett Lighting Design, chose 150W T6 ceramic metal halide precision spotlights. The fixtures are mounted on two 45-foot-tall poles, one on each side of the sculpture, and include custom glare-shields, spread lenses, and neutral density filters to optimize the beam distribution and light intensity. To capture the appropriate facial expression and to provide the definition of the shadows that the team desired, the lighting designers knew that they had to set the light at a higher mounting height than the statue itself. Hence the poles, which are nestled into the cherry tree groves along the site.

Given the unique setting, the designers were aware of how this project related to the city and the network of public spaces, monument, and memorials at the National Mall. Whereas the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials are about lighting a statue within a structure, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial had a different goal—to illuminate King’s ideas.

Jury Comments: The lighting is approached like a theatrical performance, setting scenes and activating the public space in a way not expected. • Love the way the lighting creates a dramatic effect.