Gilford Corporation was a member of the MTTG Joint Venture (McKissack and McKissack, Turner Construction, Tompkins Builders, and Gilford Corporation), Design-Builders for the memorial to commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The four-acre crescent-shaped memorial is located on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The memorial features beautiful landscaping as well as a sculptural likeness of Dr. King on a 2-1/2 story granite “Stone of Hope” flanked by equally large hand-carved stones. Excerpts from Dr. King’s sermons and speeches are inscribed on a 450-foot granite wall. There is a bookstore and National Park Service ranger station at the entrance with a gift shop, audio visual displays, and touch-screen kiosks.
Site preparation included demolition, relocating/reinstalling site utilities, installation of new site utilities (water, sewer, stormwater, electrical, communications infrastructure), new street with traffic signaling devices, and security measures. There are approximately 1,800 linear feet of exposed aggregate concrete sidewalks installed per National Park Service (NPS) standards as well as roughly 80,000 sf of stone pavers. Site lighting includes recessed path lighting along the sidewalks, NPS standard streetlights, tree uplights in planter areas, and floodlights aimed at the sculpted pieces.
A large water feature as well as benches for contemplation adds to the tranquil feeling that the memorial attempts to evoke to its visitors. Landscaping included planting of over 200 trees (Yoshino Cherry, Crape Myrtle, and Princeton Elms), 2,300 various shrubs, and 18,000 perennials; construction of bioretention tree pits in conjunction with approximately 800 linear feet of Silva Cell system along sidewalk areas; and installation of an irrigation system with lightning arrestors, soil moisture sensors, a wireless rain sensor, and an irrigation booster pump to compensate for low water pressure on site.
The MTTG Team coordinated logistics for shipping approximately 1,600 metric tons of granite from China, which encompassed 159 pre-carved blocks that were assembled on-site to appear as a single structure. The Team provided the rigging, scaffolding, lifting, and logistics support for installation of the sculptural elements as well as concrete placement for their cores. We provided logistics support and coordination for the assembly of the 30-foot-8-inch statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., centerpiece of the memorial and the largest statue on the National Mall. This included assuring the statue assembly met all U.S. safety standards and U.S. Park Service approval.
In Henry Gilford’s words: “From a personal standpoint, it means a great deal for my wife, Ollie, and me to be a part of this historical undertaking. Both of us grew up in Alabama during the height of the civil rights movement. We experienced the inequities of segregation and participated in the struggle by taking part in demonstrations and Dr. King’s voter registration efforts.”