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POLITICS BY DESIGN:
ARCHITECTURE STUDENTS INTERPRET
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

By George Lewis

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The students worked in pairs to complete eight designs for the international competition sponsored by Alpha Phi Alpha, a black fraternity of which Dr. King was a member.

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Jan. 13, 2000 – (Lexington, Ky.) – Sixteen University of Kentucky architecture students have a dream of designing the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial, to be built in 2002 between the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials at the U.S. Capitol.

In a semester-long project under the guidance of architecture professor Michaele Pride-Wells, the students worked in pairs to complete eight designs for the international competition sponsored by Alpha Phi Alpha, a black fraternity of which King was a member.

The first-place winner will receive $20,000 and have his or her design built in honor of the celebrated civil-rights leader. Contest results will be announced June 15.

Although the students are competing against professional architects from around the world, Pride-Wells said they have a legitimate chance to win.

“The professionals do this in addition to the work that they do to sustain themselves. The students have a unique advantage because they dedicated a semester to the work,” she said.

She noted that in 1980, 21-year-old Yale architecture student Maya Lei won a similar competition for her design of the Vietnam Memorial.

African weavings inspire one of the designs. Another allows sunlight to project the words of King’s “I have a dream” speech onto those standing nearby. A third uses a bridge motif to symbolize the social, historical and political implications of King. All of the designs are abstracted interpretations of the contest’s theme “The Man, the Movement, the Message.”

Models and drawings are on display beginning Wednesday at the Downtown Design Center, 106 East Main St., Lexington.


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