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Michael Marshall ’84MArch:
a park for the Godfather of Go-Go

As Washington, DC, pays tribute to “the Godfather of Go-Go” this week, it is also spotlighting the work of Yale-trained architect Michael Marshall ’84MArch.

DC native Marshall and his firm designed the Chuck Brown Memorial Park, named for the guitarist/singer/songwriter who’s credited with inventing the percussive, soul-inflected music called go-go.

“He called it go-go because it wouldn’t stop,” the Washington Post wrote after Brown’s death in 2012. (If the music isn’t familiar, check out Brown’s 1978 hit “Bustin’ Loose”—you’ll see what they mean.)

A ribbon-cutting for the memorial, part of Langdon Park in Northeast DC, is scheduled for August 22, which would have been Brown’s 78th birthday.

Marshall’s design includes a plaza for informal performances; a memorial wall with photo mosaics of Brown performing; and a timeline of Brown’s life and music.  There are also interactive elements: a bank of drums that visitors can play, and motion-activated LED lights that evoke the call and response of go-go. The plantings are “quintessential” DC trees: cherry blossoms and magnolias.

Marshall, whose work on other DC icons includes the restoration of the historic Howard Theatre, says that Chuck Brown “set the foundation for various music genres, and he is an important [part] of Washington, DC, culture.” Or, as a local radio and TV celebrity told the Post, “Chuck was like the Washington Monument.”

Now, thanks to Marshall and others, he’s got his own monument.


The Yale Alumni Magazine is published by Yale Alumni Publications Inc., an alumni-based nonprofit that is not run by Yale University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration.

Filed under Michael Marshall, Chuck Brown, Washington, DC
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