Three finalists have emerged from a field of nine for the right to design a permanent memorial in Portland’s Bayside neighborhood to civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The artists chosen to compete for the $100,000 contract unveiled their proposals during a meeting at Portland City Hall Thursday night hosted by members of the Martin Luther King Memorial Selection Committee.

No clear favorite emerged, and committee members don’t plan to meet again until next week. City Councilor Jill Duson, who co-chairs the committee, said members will score each proposal on Tuesday before sending their recommendation to a City Council subcommittee for review. The full council will award the contract.

The memorial will be located on the city’s Bayside Trail near its intersection with Franklin Street.

The city said the memorial should inspire visitors to reflect on King’s life and the values he espoused – to advance civil rights through non-violent civil disobedience. King, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, was assassinated on April 4, 1968, at the age of 39.

Candidates were given 30 minutes to outline their proposals to the committee.

Ironwood Landscape Architects’ proposal “creates an MLK Memorial experience that reminds us that it is our work to create the Beloved Community.”Rendering courtesy of Ironwood Landscape Architects

Jeffrey R. Hyland, the founding principal of Ironwood Landscape Architecture in Newmarket, New Hampshire, said his firm would build a vertical beacon with a light at the top.

The beacon, which would be lit on significant dates in King’s life, would become the centerpiece of the Bayside Trail plaza, which would also feature a sign that says “The Beloved Community” and a large granite bench curving around the plaza. A peace bell would also ring on special days.

“We want the beacon to be an enduring symbol of the memorial,” Hyland said.

Robert Katz and a design team have proposed an amphitheater and reflection space, which visitors could interact with using their smartphones. Rendering courtesy of Katz, Cousens, Stoodley and Katz

The second proposal was presented by Robert Katz, who teaches sculpture and design at the University of Maine Augusta.

Katz and his design team have proposed a welcome table surrounded by nine granite columns – each standing 5-feet, 7-inches, or the same height as King. Each column would have a soundscape system built into it that could be activated by a smart phone app.

Each column would provide the listener with clips from King interviews, speeches, his writings and could include the voices of Portland’s immigrant population telling their stories.

“Each column will tell a different story from Dr. King’s life,” Katz said. “The memorial is simple, but very complex in its symbolism.”

The welcome table would be surrounded by a granite amphitheater and face a so-called garden of reflection with a single chair in its midst.

Freeport artist Evan Haynes and TJD&A Landscape Architects and Planners propose a gathering space on the plaza with interactive sculptures showing documentaries of King’s life. Rendering courtesy of TJD&A Landscape Architects

The final proposal from came Evan Haynes, a Freeport artist, and TJD&A Landscape Architects and Planners.

Haynes said his proposal calls for a shaded space on the plaza where people could gather, as well as a new gateway off Wilmot Street extension. Interactive sculptures would be installed on the plaza, again offering smart phone owners the opportunity to view documentaries about King’s life as well as Portland’s history.

Haynes said his team is also recommending that a neon sign be installed at the trail’s intersection with Franklin Street. The sign would simply state, “Justice, MLK.” He is also proposing that the memorial have a designated website.

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