Martin Luther King, Jr.
Center for Non-Violent Social Change
55,000 SF • 5,110 SQ M
The King Foundation commissioned J. Max Bond to design the Center, which today attracts over 650,000 visitors each year. The Center includes not only the tomb of Dr. King but also Freedom Hall (containing an auditorium, gift shop, exhibit hall and meeting rooms), the Archives and Administration Building, home of the world’s largest primary source collection on the Civil Rights movement, Freedom Walk, a barrel-vaulted colonnade extending the length of the site, and the Chapel of All Faiths.
The arts program includes a series of murals along the Freedom Walk that depict Dr. King’s campaigns and the civil rights movement’s precedents, as well as various sculptures and other works of art relating to the history of the civil rights movement. Throughout the mid-1980s, Max Bond worked with the Center to upgrade the chapel, improve site lighting and finishes, and develop a maintenance program for the buildings.
The building proportions, formal organization of the spaces, reflecting pool, and carefully-chosen materials possess a spiritual, cultural, and in some cases economic, relationship to the goals of the Center. For instance, the decision to use locally-produced brick, considered to be a more “humble” material (as opposed a more conventional museum cladding like marble), allowed greater opportunity for the use of minority construction workers. In keeping with the Center’s goals, the design of the buildings and site was intended to create an environment that is safe and controlled yet also warm and welcoming.