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Robert F. Kennedy Gravesite Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery

In late 1968, several months after Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated, his widow Ethel Kennedy asked I.M. Pei to design his gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery. Pei had collaborated with RFK on the community development of the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York and knew the family through his work on the Kennedy Library.

The senator was buried in a temporary tomb until the Pei-designed site was dedicated in 1971, adjacent to the grave of his elder brother, slain President John F. Kennedy. RFK’s memorial is deliberately modest by comparison, in a small alcove off of JFK’s white marble terrace and eternal flame. It retained the simple white wooden cross from his initial interment, with a granite foot marker set flush with the grass and a small semicircular plaza, reflecting pool, and memorial wall inscribed with quotes from two of RFK’s most memorable speeches. The gravesite uses the same Deer Isle gray granite as in JFK’s larger plaza, to which it is connected by a granite walkway.


Inscription wall and reflecting pool / Wknight94. Wikimedia

Design Team: I.M. Pei, Design Partner; Yann Weymouth, Design Architect
I.M. Pei & Partners