Ralph Appelbaum Associates

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Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site Visitor Center

Atlanta, Georgia

The exhibit space is divided chronologically into six chambers of audio-visual testimony that correspond to important stages in the evolution of King’s philosophy and political struggle and communicate the volatility of the times. The experience culminates in a gently inclined “road” in the center of the hall, which is inlaid with the names of the important freedom marches. Visitors walk among cast figures toward a window view of Dr. King’s tomb and memorial. Beyond its many programs serving school groups and young people, the King Center attracts over a million people per year.

The historic district near downtown Atlanta, where Martin Luther King, Jr., was born, preached, and founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, is the third-most visited in the National Park Service. It honors the only man in American history to currently have a national holiday in his name. For this visitor center, encompassing 35 acres and located near the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, RAA was brought on to provide interpretive planning, scriptwriting, and design. We worked in collaboration with leading King, Civil Rights, and black history scholars, using King’s words and his voice as the most important artifacts. We show how he raised the consciousness of a nation and how the commitment of Civil Rights activists forever changed the society in which we live.

Size 7,700 square feet

Year 1996