Page 3 of 3   <      

Massive King memorial nearly ready for trip to Mall for assembly

Chinese sculpter Lei Yixin works on the granite head that will cap the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial on the Mall.
Chinese sculpter Lei Yixin works on the granite head that will cap the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial on the Mall. (Courtesy Of Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation)
  Enlarge Photo    

The adjacent Tidal Basin seawall will be carefully monitored because of the way it has sunk at the Jefferson Memorial. "There are probably potential problems around the entire Tidal Basin with the seawall," Jackson said.

But Terry, the construction executive, said the mud is not expected to transmit severe vibrations from the pile drivers to the seawall. Pile driving could begin next month, he said.

The sculptures will be assembled from the granite blocks, much like a child might build with a set of toy blocks. Each block is cut and carved. Once they are disassembled in China, they will be shipped, probably aboard several vessels, to Baltimore, then put into storage until needed, Jackson said.

On the Tidal Basin, they will be lifted by a huge crane that will put them in place to form the facades of the sculptures. After the bottom row of blocks is placed in a kind of circular pattern, concrete will be used to fill in the center.

"You create a ring, and then you pour the center with concrete," Jackson said. "Then you do another ring, and you pour again, until you work all the way up."

Jackson said the three main elements are far too big to be made of solid granite: "How would you lift it?" he asked.

Savage, the historian, noted that the tradition of colossal sculpture goes back to ancient times.

"We know it in the United States from the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore," he said. "But in Washington, this will be a very, very unusual piece of work. . . . It's almost like a pyramid they're building."


<          3

© 2010 The Washington Post Company