Five finalists for MLK and Coretta Scott King memorial on Boston Common announced

The Embrace

"The Embrace" by Hank Willis Thomas and MASS Design Group

The city and MLK Boston yesterday released the five finalists for a proposed memorial to the civil-rights leader and his wife - both of whom studied in Boston, where they met - on Boston Common.

Drawings of the five proposals are now on display at the BPL main library in Copley Square. They vary in size - one would include large walkways in black stone that would continue across Beacon Street to the grounds of the State House - and proposed location on the Common.

In addition to the Embrace (more info), the finalists are:

Avenue of Peace by Yinka Shonabare (more info):

Proposed MLK memorial on the Common

Boston's King Memorial by Adam Pendleton, Adjaye Associates, Future\Pace and David Reinfurt (more info):

Proposed MLK memorial on the Common

Empty Pulpit Monument by Barbara Chase-Riboud (more info):

Proposed MLK memorial on the Common

he Ripple Effects by Wodiczko + Bonder / Maryann Thompson Architects, with Walter Hood (more info):

Proposed MLK memorial on the Common

MLK Boston survey on the proposals.

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Comments

The Embrace is the proposal to beat

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Visually striking, small enough in scale that it doesn't feel like it's taking over the Common, yet big enough to make an impact, and gets right to the stated purpose of memorializing both Dr. King and his relationship with his wife. Lets hope they pick this one.

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Voting is closed. 53

same

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I like embrace alot. Many people say its just a mirror (so to speak) of Millennium Park in Chicago but I like it. its something we don't have here.

The other ones, while a few spark my eye.... I just feel like Embrace is the best out of all.

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More info needed

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Embrace doesn't wow me, but I do like the fact that it's more compact. I'm all for having a MLK commemoration on the Common, but some of the others seem to be "taking over" more area than I would choose. I would like to see what Embrace looks like from the other side.

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Voting is closed. 27

This is It's Best Side

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And actually makes it look palatable. Until now, I had only seen the inside-the-grotto and 'satellite' renderings, and it just looked like an ugly blob of copper that had no conceivable reference to MLK. Seeing the hands and scale at eye level is a lot more flattering.

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design feature

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Not being distinguishable from an aerial (all those heli-tourists) and from a great distance might actually be a feature as it will draw people closer, only revealing itself through experience rather than smacking you in the face with meaning as soon as you see it. It's a little more nuanced, say in the way of the Sean Collier Memorial at MIT.

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agreed

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Some of them seem to take up a huge area.

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Agreed!

I also find it the most eye-catching of the finalists

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One further thought

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I think that's a good choice - and while I love moving water - there are always long term maintenance issues with those things and they are always breaking - and left that way for a LONG time.

I've been told that the walk from the garden toward city hall is called the Mayor's Walk and the walk from the fountain to the statehouse is called the Governor's Walk. Always thought it would be a nice touch to have inlaid stones with the names of the mayors and the governors on those walks. I think it would be great to have Deval Patrick's name (no matter what you think of him politically) positioned so that you look at this across his stone which should somehow be set out from the others to demonstrate how far we've come - and continue on with how far we have to go (something for Jane Swift as the first woman governor also and perhaps other notables as time goes on).

Again - a thought...

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Voting is closed. 24

IDK...

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I still like the one submitted by "Tom B."

IMAGE(http://www.tysonfrantz.com/uhub/boston_common.jpg)

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Voting is closed. 43

That one's in Foxboro.

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That one's in Foxboro.

If you want a monument to the Foxboro, MA Patriots - aka New England Patriots - in Boston...

I'd suggest Nickerson Field, or near it - perhaps a portion of the eventual/someday/maybe BU/Beacon Yards commuter rail station.

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All are WAY

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To large and modern for the Common, a historic park. Also what does MLK have to do with the Common?

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If you put something

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This large and imposing it's no longer The Common, but the MLK Memorial Park.

MLK should be memorialized, this just isn't how it should be done.

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When you click on "more info"

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When you click on "more info" for the last one (the best one), you get Empty Pulpit again.
Let's see that last one. Looks like the best one to me.

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Man, I really do not like the

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Man, I really do not like the Embrace one. It's feels very kitschy and looks designed more for instagram than for reflection. Admittedly the alternatives are all maybe a little too far on the understated side, but I think Empty Pulpit has a powerful quality to it.

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clear winner

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I vote for the vagina pool and fountain.

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Ha!

I'm not the only one who thought that. Good.

I like the embrace, and I also like the one that ties to the Statehouse grounds with a pedestrian bridge. Really ties the area together.

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war memorial

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That scheme instantly brought to mind the Vietnam Memorial in DC. With the dark metal and sharp angular site walls, it's more reminiscent of a war or holocaust memorial than representing the relationship between the Kings.

Although I do really enjoy the concept of the "mountaintop" and capitalizing on the topography of the common.

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Voting is closed. 12

How about no?

There is already a nice memorial to King in front of Marsh chapel at BU: Free at Last. Why do we need a new memorial taking a huge chunk out of our Common? The Common is never going to get any larger.

By the way, this is an insidious true use of "begging the question", which is oft misused. "Which of these five things do you want" presupposes that we want one of them at all. Like the recent "Where should we put the Olympic stadium?"

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Voting is closed. 54

Does it really bother you? I

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Does it really bother you? I think you need to find more important things to get upset about unless you have some other agenda for opposing this.
Comparing a small statue in the common to building an Olympic stadium Would be a funny comparison If it weren’t so ridiculous

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Sure

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A small sculpture on a college campus is all MLK deserves in this city?

OK.

And we wonder why Boston has the reputation it does.

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Voting is closed. 49

I see your point

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And I used to go by the King memorial a lot, but it’s more like the university’s memorial to the guy who is their most well known alum (non hockey)

Boston could use a civic memorial to King.

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Since when?

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Yes, it has war memorials on it, but do you realize why it's called The Common?

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About that...

"The Common is a war and revolutionary memorial."

Actually, it was used as a common grazing area for cows and sheep for centuries. It evolved over the years.

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Christ those things are ugly.

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Christ those things are ugly. How about a small statue, instead of clogging up the common.

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You mean like a bronze

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You mean like a bronze sculpture of King mounted atop a stone pedestal? That would blend in too well. Need something that sticks out.

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Intrusive

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That one that is a bridge or a walkway or whatever it is going across Beacon Street is really intrusive. Can they just build something over a major street like that for no real reason other than being a memorial? Its also ugly as sin.

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Yeah!

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Can't they just put it somewhere where I don't have to see it or think about it?

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Really?

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This whole project seems to have been set up to elicit exactly your response. Clearly Boston needs a monument to Dr. King. And choosing the Common was deliberately provocative by this small group that is running the monument. It is almost impossible to criticize because of the importance of the person be memorialized, the overdue nature of the memorial, and Boston's continuing reputation as one of the most racist cities in the country.

That said, it's okay to critique these designs. The memorial is going to be forever and it should be one we are proud of that speaks to the people of Boston, not just a small group of self-appointed memorialists. The bridge one feels very derivative and intrusive. David Adjaye is a wonderful architect but this is really just showing his lack of understanding of the context.

Challenging the history of the Common is an interesting idea, and I'd love to have seen the RFP that was issued because it seems like that may have been an active part of the program. But there is challenging, confronting, and changing and then there is poor design. A lot of these are just not that good or interesting, which is becoming more common in monument design. The painful simplicity of the Vietnam memorial is so perfect for that site and that conflict that it has upended memorial design. It's hard to manage that kind of intense synergy and I don't think we've seen anything as good since (Maya Lin's Civil rights memorial in Montgomery Alabama shows how she's struggled with this. And it's pretty sucessful).

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Voting is closed. 9

Second Look

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Take a closer look. Its not a bridge over Beacon Street. It goes OVER the walkway in the park near beacon. Essentially that staircase that goes from that path to beacon in front of the statehouse would be a bridge.

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What?

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So it's a bridge TO the stairway, or does it obliterate the stairway? It essentially creates an overpass to be walked under on that path that goes from Park to Charles? Or does one have to walk around it if one is walking up that path towards Charles (as opposed to towards Beacon)? The whole thing is horrendously awkward. I'd also suggest avoiding any overpass or bridgelike structures in that vicinity, the shadowy underside of which would certainly serve as a gathering place/flopping area for the intravenous drug users which already populate the immediately surrounding areas to the proposed bridge.

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Last one

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The rest are too artsy or morbid. A good memorial accentuates the positive in the man it commemorates, not the architect who builds it.

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Double duty

Easy to convert to a Beach Volleyball venue if the need arises.

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First one.

I wasn't able to download the Ripple Effects one. The link was to Barbara

Agreed with above. Embrace is best - well contained, simple and iconic, beautiful, well-placed, will probably age best.

The next one looks like a vagina.

The black walkway is second favorite - it manages to be big and spread out without completely taking over, but I feel like it still needs some work. What happens under the cantilever? It also doesn't seem to be saying anything, and creates a lot of weird moments.

The first tower is plain ugly like what?

And the second tower I can't even see the proposal but it looks way too big.

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Makes sense

I think it's a good idea that needed a few more rounds of critique and iteration.

I got the last one from the website. I think it's trying to do too much, and in doing so does none of it well except take up space. The proposal also lacks a context map and has at least one typo. My least favorite.

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Ugh. These are all terrible

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Ugh. These are all terrible and even the smallest is way, way too big and flashy. Can’t we have something smaller and classic, like the ether monument?

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Very different from the mock-ups in the Globe just yesterday

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Not just perspective, the designs are noticeably different. The vagina pool is 5 time larger here, the one with the ramps does not extend over Beacon and another seems to be changed entirely. The Globe has one which steals the Frog Pond (which I will violently oppose by any means necessary), and replaces it with #5 here. What a difference a day makes.
https://www.bostonglobe.com/2018/09/18/which-mlk-memorial-you-want-see-b...

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Different reporters, different eyes ...

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The proposals tend to have several views of the would-be memorials. I guess I chose different ones than the Globe. You can see all the renderings for each proposal via the "more info" links here.

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I understand, but how can you get the public to approve

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of such wildly different designs? Which one do we vote on, the one with the small, unobtrusive pool or the one that dominates the landscape? They're supposedly the same choice. And the last one here is a complete rework of one that steals the Frog Pond, not even close. (Although I see now that there is no bridge over Beacon for the rampy one.)

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I vote for the bridge

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I like the link to the Statehouse and it looks really functional as well as beautiful. People can sit on the lower parts or gaze out from the top.Handicapped ramp is huge plus.

Someone said the Common isn't getting smaller and I think that's true but this adds real estate with the bridge and seating.

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Make sure MLK is noted as Republican and harassed by Kennedy's

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It wasn’t until 1963, when Attorney General Robert Kennedy approved wiretapping Dr. King’s phones, that the government ramped up its campaign against the civil rights activist. (After King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in August of that year, an FBI memo described him as “the most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country.”)

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Whatever monument is chosen, I hope the plaque notes that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a lifelong Republican. The plaque should also note the Massachusetts Kennedy's, all cheating on their wives and dragged kicking and screaming to support Civil Rights, secretly wiretapped Dr. King hoping to catch him cheating on his wife. The Kennedy's were hoping to undermine Dr. King's movement. Sickening.

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you are either wildly stupid

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you are either wildly stupid (not understanding party realignment) or an active white supremacist. I would tend towards the latter since you focus only on the democrats and ignore hoover.

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Why not both?

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I mean he wrote "Kennedy's" twice when he clearly meant it to be the plural, so he's definitely wildly stupid. As for as "active white supremacist", he's definitely an active racist dogwhistler. I'd put him more as a passive white supremacist, meaning that he doesn't so much actively hate on people of color (too much work) as he is angered and upset by any situation in which straight white Christian men are not the boss of everything.

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You

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are sickening.

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No problem

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I think at this point most people are well aware of the Southern Strategy and how it changed the ideologies of both major political parties in the US.

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OK, sure

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Make sure it mentions he was a Republican. Just shows how much the Republican party has morphed over the years.

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What's up with the guitar

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What's up with the guitar tuners? I'd definitely stay away from the vagina - just sayin.' Scale down the hands and I'll take it. At full size, it will be a great place to shoot up. Or piss.

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Yeah

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I really don't get this one. I get (and like) the theory behind it, but the execution is baffling.

I understand that it is meant to be abstract but it reads almost like a Native American totem pole.

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Haven't had time to look at

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Haven't had time to look at the additional information yet. Out of the five pictures shown, I would say The Embrace. It can be a sizable memorial without taking up too much real estate, and it's the only one that's clear from a single pic that it addresses husband and wife.

The bridge: to what? over what? a ditch? you're adding a ditch to have something for a bridge to go over?

Avenue of Peace: I kind'a liked it until everybody started seeing vaginas. Now all I can think of is the sculpting class episode of Everybody Loves Raymond

Empty Pulpit: Are people supposed to be able to go up on it, or supposed to keep off?

The Ripple Effect: Not clear what they're trying to say.

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My only issue with this....

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The Common represents and memorializes the beginning of Boston and America. It honors those who sacrificed during THAT time period.

King absolutely deserved recognition but it doesn't need to be in a space already honoring a different time period. One should not overshadow another.

Also those 5 memorials don't fit the ascetics of the park in any way shape or form. It like putting a Paul Revere statue in front of the Holocaust memorial. Both have incredible historical significance but necessarily belong in the same space.

Also wouldn't this be better served in a minority neighborhood, it would both serve as revitalization and inspiration. It may even bring some foot traffic to local businesses.

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So ...

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We should rip out the plaque that commemorates the time that John Paul II spoke there? The Frog Pond? The Frog Pond playground? The merry-go-round? The Earl of Sandwich? The Parkman Bandstand? The Soldiers and Sailors Monument (Civil War, dontcha know)? The World War I mine next to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument? The baseball field? The tennis courts?

It's not called Revolution Park. It's called the Common because it was land held in common for all Bostonians. You know, people used to graze their cows there. Throughout its history, it's been a place for Bostonians to gather and exercise their rights.

King has way more to do with the history of Boston and the United States than John Paul II. He went to school here and formed many of his ideas here. But speaking of the Common, yes, he has a connection to it: He led a march from Roxbury to the Parkman Bandstand, and gave a speech there.

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I agree, though I'd make the

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I agree, though I'd make the distinction that there would be a difference between having a marker for a historic event (they put one for site the JPII Mass, they could have one for the site where MLK spoke) and a monument to MLK.

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All for

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The tourist crap being removed. I have the same issue with the playground and fields too.

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No it doesn't

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The Common represents and memorializes the beginning of Boston and America. It honors those who sacrificed during THAT time period.

I'm gonna take a guess that you've never actually been to the Common or you'd know what flagrant bullshit that is.

Also wouldn't this be better served in a minority neighborhood, it would both serve as revitalization and inspiration. It may even bring some foot traffic to local businesses.

I'm sure that helping minority neighborhoods is a major concern of yours.

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The Bridge is Inappropriate

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Sorry -- but the bridge infringes on the immediate vicinity of The Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth Regiment

Augustus Saint-Gaudens -- [bas relief plus] -- sculpture depicts the historic event of Col. Shaw and the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, marching down Beacon Street on May 28, 1863. -- from there they headed to Fort Wagner and immortality -- "Glory"

No one with any consideration for history can seriously consider putting anything next to that memorial

and if you move the bridge down the hill it loses the link with the State House -- so its a non starter

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Voting is closed. 6

The Bridge is Inappropriate

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Sorry -- but the bridge infringes on the immediate vicinity of The Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth Regiment

Augustus Saint-Gaudens -- [bas relief plus] -- sculpture depicts the historic event of Col. Shaw and the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, marching down Beacon Street on May 28, 1863. -- from there they headed to Fort Wagner and immortality -- "Glory"

No one with any consideration for history can seriously consider putting anything next to that memorial

and if you move the bridge down the hill it loses the link with the State House -- so its a non starter

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Slide

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Perhaps its just a poor artist's rendering or an optical illusion, but there doesn't seem to be any way on or off that bridge from the side with the grass. It seems to be several feet higher up than the grass. It is not at grade. The little figures in the rendering look like they would have to leap off several feet onto the grass. It seems almost like a slide. And on the other side, does it let you off at the stairs? So you sort of go up a steep incline and then further up stairs? It's bizarre.

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Time to start over.

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The disembodied "Embrace" is horrid but it has something in common with the other proposals: it evokes nothing that conjures the life and spirit of Martin Luther King.

Why do they all look so cheap ? The horrid granite or cement park in front of the statehouse is a particularly jarring affront to good taste.

If this is going to happen then artists of a higher caliber must be included. I hope that the black community of Boston has a strong voice in deciding what's appropriate.

If done right, a statue of Martin and Coretta together would be an interesting addition to the Commonwealth Ave mall.

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Interactive space

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I'm going to think about it a while before filling in the survey, but so far my two favorites are (1.) "Boston's King Memorial: by Adam Pendleton, Adjaye Associates, Future\Pace and David Reinfurt and (2.) "Empty Pulpit" by Barbara Chase-Riboud with Michael Rosenfeld Gallery.

I like the concept of an interactive space that people can use to walk, sit, and read and/or listen to King's words. I could see visiting these more than once, to enjoy the space and feel inspired. I could also see sitting there just to read or meet up with friends.

As for scale -- I think it's great that these are interactive spaces rather than a single statue. I could see enjoying the spaces as we do any space on the common -- sit & read, work, meet up with friends, walking/jogging by, etc.. The artist statements on some of these designs suggest that we can think of it as a living memorial - inspirational & just as relevant to whatever work we are doing now as to the work of the past.

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