On June 12, 2016, a 29-year-old man who was allegedly inspired by ISIS propaganda entered an Orlando nightclub at two in the morning and began shooting. He didn’t stop until 49 innocent lives were taken, and 53 others were wounded. The terrorist attack at Pulse nightclub was the deadliest-known act of violence against the LGBTQ community in U.S. history. Today, some three and a half years later, and the memorial and museum meant to honor those victims took one major step closer to becoming a reality. News broke this morning that a team comprised of Coldefy & Associés with RDAI, Orlando-based HHCP Architects, Xavier Veilhan, Ducks Scéno, Agence TER, and professor Laila Farah of DePaul University has been selected to design the National Pulse Memorial & Museum.
The OnePulse Foundation, a nonprofit managing the design and construction of the project, named the group of firms as the winners in a competition that totaled 68 submissions from 19 different countries. What makes the announcement more interesting, however, is the unveiled design that the winning architects created will most likely change over time. And that’s because the OnePulse Foundation has ensured the public is able to voice their opinion on how this deeply personal public space should appear. “From the beginning this has been a community-driven effort,” says Barbara Poma, CEO of the OnePulse Foundation. “And as the team develops a master plan, there will be additional opportunities for families, survivors, first responders, and the public to be a part of the process.”
The winning design, as it stands so far at least, consists of a tall, circular museum that will be visible for miles in all directions. Within the space there are plans for a reflecting pool to circle the museum, creating a memorial that contains 49 colors in honor of the number of lives lost. What’s more, 49 trees will be planted around the former nightclub, which will be placed at the center of the garden. A rooftop promenade will provide unobstructed views of the memorial, as well as the greater Orlando community. To reach the rooftop, visitors will take a processional walk past all 49 trees. “Everything started with the response from the community and from the world to tragedy at the Pulse nightclub,” says Zoltan Neville, director of design at Coldefy. “We were very much inspired to continue this mission of transforming a tragic event into something that radiates hope, love, and education for the local community and the world.”
The OnePulse Foundation hopes to break ground in 2021 on the National Pulse Memorial & Museum, with a projected completion date some time in 2022. And while the exact date of completion is still unclear, the message the group hopes visitors leave the space remembering is anything but. “Our goal is that visitors will experience a space that both respects the memory and life of the nightclub, the victims, and all those affected,” continues Neville. “And that the project can be a catalyst for understanding and change.”