MLK Memorial in Washington D.C. opens to the public

The much-anticipated Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial opened to the public on August 22, 2011, with Thornton Tomasetti providing structural design and construction administration services for the new memorial, which occupies a four-acre site along the Tidal Basin, adjacent to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial.

The firm’s Vice President, Tom McElwain, and Project Engineer, Calvin D. Austin, both based in the Washington, D.C. office, led the assignment for the firm. This was familiar territory for McElwain, who also designed the Korean War Veterans’ Memorial structure on the National Mall.

The project includes a large sculpture and massive stone gateway with two waterfalls that are served by below-grade pump rooms and a 175-foot long access tunnel, as well as a 3,000-sf building that will house a bookstore and public facilities. The plaza is surrounded by curving, stone-clad retaining walls carved with inscriptions.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc. was created specifically to build the monument, a venture that has been more than a decade in the making.

The memorial was built by a design-build team consisting of a joint venture of McKissack & McKissack of Washington, D.C.; New York City-based Turner Construction Co.; Gilford Corp. of Beltsville, Md.; and Tompkins Builders, Inc. of Washington, D.C. The construction cost of the project is $120 million.

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