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Project

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial

The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial features a crescent-shaped plaza surrounded by curving, stone-clad retaining walls carved with inscriptions.

Project Details

Project Partners
MTTG Joint Venture
Owner
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc.
Location
Washington, D.C.
Completion Date
Height
31 ft
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C. Thornton Tomasetti
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C. Thornton Tomasetti
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C. Thornton Tomasetti
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C. Thornton Tomasetti
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C. Thornton Tomasetti
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C. Thornton Tomasetti

Overview

Situated on a four-acre site along the tidal basin on the National Mall and adjacent to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial features a crescent-shaped plaza surrounded by curving, stone-clad retaining walls carved with inscriptions. Two large stones, the “mountains of despair,” form a gateway flanked by waterfalls. On the plaza, the “stone of hope” incorporates a 31-foot-tall sculpture of Reverend King. The complex also includes a 3,000-square-foot structure across the street from the memorial. The building, which features a 12-foot roof cantilever, houses a bookstore and public facilities.

We provided structural design to MTTG Joint Venture for the memorial, which opened in 2011 and was followed by a weeklong events calendar to celebrate Reverend King's impact on American culture.

mlk_monument_column Thornton Tomasetti

Highlights

  • Our engineers worked closely with the geotechnical consultant to overcome extremely challenging soil conditions. The entire memorial rests upon piles driven to bedrock.
  • The water features posed an additional challenge. Plans originally called for a remote pump-room with underground piping running to the falls. A design change added below-grade pump rooms beneath each of the waterfalls, with a 175-foot tunnel providing access to both. This required the tunnel to run directly below the massive “mountains of despair.” We re-analyzed and re-configured the arrangement of piles supporting the stones to accommodate the tunnel.
  • The design of the tunnel itself was complex, requiring precise integration with many different components. Highly detailed and coordinated drawings ensured that the design intent was clear and simplified construction.

Capabilities