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Martin Luther King Jr. and Civil Rights Movement Monument Competition Entry
Washington D.C.

produced in collaboration

Anthony Allen: master planner
Jesse Valentine Portz: architect

The planning of this memorial is designed around the visitor’s procession through the monument, which represents the history of people of African ancestry in America.
Entering from the parking lot, visitors cross a reflecting pool via a series of bridges, representing a multiplicity of paths crossing the Atlantic. Each bridge arrives at a circle, which represents arrival in the new world. At this point visitors are faced with a path crossed with a series of blockades. Planted around the blockades are cotton plants, a symbol in the community which cuts past the prosaic to stir memory. Each blockade represents the struggle for equality of civil rights, telling stories of each trial and difficult achievement of success etched in the glass of the blockade.
Visitors, after zig-zaging around the barriers, arrive at a series of curved glass walls etched with photographs documenting the civil rights struggle of the 20th century. Rising out pools of water and illuminated from beneath, these images glow at night, a recognizable landmark for passersby. Veiled by these glowing panels is a black granite columnar pavilion. The building’s plan is based on ten radial axies, with five doors (voids) and five walls (solids). Each void axis after passing through the center becomes a solid wall, functioning as a space of collecting and coming together. Cut through the center of each opposite wall seen when entering the pavilion is a sliver of frosted glass glowing with light from outside. Running down the glass is a stream of water, which falls to a glass covered channel in the floor, and finally connects to run together in a circular pool in the center, a metaphor for the people of this nation. Above the pool is an oculus in the cable suspended glass roof, to allow fresh waters from above to join. Etched into the granite walls inside is a tribute to the philosophy and achievements of Martin Luther King, Jr., and our desire to continue in the pursuit of his dream. After leaving the pavilion, visitors finally arrive at his statue, looking out over the water.

Site Plan

View from street

View from street

Procession through the Monument

Monument Plan

Lateral Section

South Elevation

West Elevation

copyright 2000 Anthony Allen and Jesse Valentine Portz