The Memorial is an interactive open-air ground for public gatherings, cultural activity and events as well as individual and group reflection and discussion. The project is composed of six key elements which together generate a layered experience that is: the beacon towers, the ripples, the mountain, the bridge, the wall, and the plaza. The Beacon Towers symbolize the continuing presence and of MLK and CSK legacy. Emanating from the Beacon Towers, in the surface texture of the Memorial Ground, are ripples that evoke the “ripple effect” of the words, actions and leadership of The Kings. The ripples expand across the site and intersect with the ripples coming from the mound that rises above. The Mound creates a journey “to the mountaintop” culminating in a platform from which to view the paired towers and the State House, and to bring into being a public community of engaged visitors. Two richly evocative paths traverse the site and connect it beyond the Common to a broad temporal horizon that stretches from the deep origins of the Kings’ struggle to the unfinished work of the future. One is the Freedom Trail that is redirected here to the top of the mound. The other is an elevated walkway or bridge leading from the 54th Memorial across the Common past the bell towers rising from below. The bridge provides the opportunity to embed in the ground a chronology of moving oratory beginning with abolitionism in the 19th century and leading to the struggles for justice and equality in the 21st century. In this way the Kings’ lives are set into a larger story that remains unfinished.
Below the bridge, a glass wall offers a more intimate and self-reflective encounter with written and spoken texts that teach and inspire. The reflective surface of the glass allows for the visitor to see themselves layered onto and within the context of the words., and in the company of ‘others’.