After input from survivors, family members of survivors, Orlando leaders and donors, a design has been chosen for a memorial for the terrorist attack at the Pulse nightclub that killed 49 people in June 2016.
Six design teams offered proposals. French architects Coldefy and Orlando-based HHCP Architects teamed up on the winning design.
“There were many things I liked about the design,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings. “Primarily, I like the fact that the design team gave much consideration to how the museum and the memorial will be impactful and honor the victims and their families.”
The winning memorial design will have the Pulse nightclub closed off by stone walls with a path through the center which people will be able to walk through. This design appealed to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.
“I like the actual use of the building,” Dyer said. “It has a water feature and then the ability to reflect. It just seems like an appropriate way to honor the victims.”
Honoring the victims was a theme throughout the selection process but there are fears that the memorial and museum will become tourist attractions which have caused some victims’ families to lash out against the One Pulse Foundation.
Demings thinks the design will help assure those fears, saying they found the “right balance to reflect on the tragedy, to allow people to grieve and then to honor their life and their legacy.”Dyer said the memorial and museum should be like the Mall in Washington D.C.
State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, told Florida Daily that LGBTQ communities across the country and world will make “a pilgrimage” to the memorial to honor the 49 lives lost.
“That’s not something that the Foundation necessarily needs to promote. It just happens, and it is already happening,” Smith said. “They’ve struck the right balance so far, especially by trying to get so much input from families of victims.”
With a design now chosen, the One Pulse Foundation will begin refining it by getting input fro survivors and victims’ families who have not weighed in yet and from the general public. Funding is also a priority, one that Pulse owner and One Pulse Foundation CEO Barbara Poma addressed this week.
“We have raised $16 million so far,” Poma said. “We know that funding can come in phases. Now that we have this design concept, we will have a new way of fundraising that we will be able to do and, when we break ground, there will be another round in finishing up. So it just comes in phases.”
Some of that money has come from tourist development taxes and there could be more of those funds on the way. The One Pulse Foundation also received $500,000 in last year’s state budget. Smith thinks there will be more this year, noting Gov. Ron DeSantis supports funding the foundation.
“He made a public pledge when he visited the Pulse nightclub this past June in front of reporters and in front of the community,” Smith said. “He knew that there was more funding being requested and that he was dedicated and committed to seeing that through.”
The museum will be visible from I-4 and the project will have a major impact on Orlando. The entire site between the Pulse Memorial and the museum will cover a third of a mile and feature a walk sponsored by Orlando Health that memorializes the three-block journey that many survivors took between the club and the emergency room on June 12, 2016. It is still unknown when the sites will be open to the public.
Reach Mike Synan at firstname.lastname@example.org.