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First look: A towering memorial to the 49 victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting

After a seven-month search, the jury has selected a spiraling, open-air design.

First look: A towering memorial to the 49 victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting
[Photo: Coldefy & Associés with RDAI/onePULSE Foundation]

In the aftermath of the mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub in June 2016, the owner of the club established a nonprofit called onePULSE Foundation to memorialize the people who died in the mass murder, known as “the 49.”

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The group quickly established an interim memorial in Orlando, but in 2019 the foundation teamed up with the mayor of Orlando to launch a design competition for a permanent memorial and museum, slated to open in 2022. After receiving 68 entries from 19 countries, six shortlisted designs were announced in early October. Now, the winner has been revealed: A team led by French architects Coldefy & Associés—along with fellow French architects RDAI, Florida firm HHCP Architects, and Xavier Veilhan, dUCKS scéno, Agence TER, and professor Laila Farah—will design the public tribute to the 49 Pulse victims.

[Photo: Coldefy & Associés with RDAI/onePULSE Foundation]
The winning concept incorporates the original Pulse nightclub building into the structure, as dictated by the competition. The proposal features a reflecting pool that surrounds this central building; the basin of the water feature is decorated with stripes in 49 different colors—a vibrant homage to the lives lost. This pool leads directly to an outdoor garden, where 49 trees will be planted.

The central building will also serve as an open-air museum, which includes an educational center designed to create dialogue about the possibilities of positive activism.

[Photo: Coldefy & Associés with RDAI/onePULSE Foundation]

“This is a deeply meaningful project that reminds us how much architecture and landscape can influence our behavior and have an impact on our community; it’s a project that already transcends our entire team in a beautiful, collective adventure,” Thomas Coldefy, principal of Coldefy & Associés, said in a press release. “Together, we have an opportunity to reclaim a place from terror and darkness and create a new reality, one that brings people together in celebration of joy and love.”

[Photo: Coldefy & Associés with RDAI/onePULSE Foundation]
While the winning design is thoroughly imagined, it isn’t necessarily final.

Over the next year, onePULSE Foundation will open up discussions to the Orlando community for feedback on the concept in the hopes that those most directly affected will play a role in the design process, and the architectural team will work to incorporate these suggestions into the final museum-memorial design.

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The surrounding community has already played a role in the design competition; over 2,300 comments from victim’s families, first responders, and survivors were considered during the selection process for the winning design.

[Photo: Coldefy & Associés with RDAI/onePULSE Foundation]
“This may seem like a long process, it is one that is necessary to ensure that the victims, survivors, and all those affected by this act of hate are given the respect and memorialization they deserve,” the foundation explains on its website.

When the National Pulse Memorial opens, it will be completely free of charge and open to the public year-round.

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