The Embrace


Boston, MA




6,000 SF (Freedom Plaza)


Embrace Boston


MASS Design Group


© MASS Design Group

So many monuments and memorials recall heroes, episodes, battles, or victories. The first sculpture built in the Boston Common in nearly a century serves as a permanent monument to the legacy of love.
Embrace Boston, a non-profit organization established by the Boston Foundation in 2017, issued a call for a permanent monument to be located in the Boston Common. This monument was to represent Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King’s presence in the city. The bronze sculpture itself is a 20-foot-tall by 32-foot-diameter figural abstraction of a photograph snapped of the couple at the time of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize announcement. The 6,000-square-foot Freedom Plaza grounds the sculpture with custom shaped granite pavers, which flow from the sculpture and curve up to form benches, walls, and curbs, while the pattern of the granite evokes an African American quilt. Thirty small, ground- recessed narrow beam pin spots located below and around the sculpture uplight it at night. Each one is strategically placed to specifically accent a particular feature of the sculpture (the suit jacket buttons, the bracelet, the fingers), but all combine to bring a wellspring of warm illumination to the form at night. The narrow optics keep the sources themselves visually quiet when viewed from a distance. As a backdrop, six ground-recessed wall washers are placed to highlight a quote from Coretta Scott King on the plaza wall, where the two flanking benches morph into a wall plane. Soft overspray from these fixtures illuminates park trees enveloping the gathering space. Additional post top luminaires are used along the sidewalks leading to the plaza, but at a considerable distance to insure a visual transition between light levels and color temperature. All combine to create the feel of a welcoming, warm hearth for the Boston Common at night.

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