The Ellipse

Rendering showing MLK monument among foliage

by Xinyi Chen (MLA II ’21)

The National Mall in Washington, D.C. will be affected by sea level rise and high tides into the future. By 2100, the predicted flood level will be 18 feet above the low tide level today. Without any intervention, most of the area will be inundated by water, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

Animated gif showing staging of the project.

To act upon these conditions over the next 50 years, this project addresses climate change by raising the landform around the MLK Memorial up to 30 feet. The gradually spiraling upwards elliptical landform delivers to visitors a highly varied encounter that moves from monumental to more eye-level contact. Further, “The Ellipse” opens the relationship of Dr. King’s edifice to a commanding presence on the Tidal Basin, enlarging its impact and therefore its narrative potential.