Winning Design Unveiled for Orlando’s National Pulse Memorial & Museum

The 2016 gay nightclub shooting claimed the lives of 49 people.

The onePULSE Foundation has announced the design team—Coldefy & Associés with RDAI, Orlando-based HHCP Architects, Xavier Veilhan, dUCKS scéno, Agence TER, and Prof. Laila Farah—selected to design the National Pulse Memorial & Museum, honoring victims of the Pulse nightclub tragedy.

On June 12, 2016, 49 people lost their lives at the Orlando gay bar in what was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history at that time.

“The Pulse is the source, the place of events that echoed throughout the world, the point of departure of a project transforming hearts, minds and inspiring the Orlando SoDo district development,” reads an official description of the memorial’s design concept, which preserves and incorporates the nightclub. “Pulse becomes the center of gravity; it radiates and transmits.”

The design includes a large gathering space, looping paths, and a reflecting pool that encircles the club, as well as a palette of 49 colors and a garden planted with 49 trees. The open-air museum and educational center features vertical gardens, interactive sculptures, and a rooftop promenade. An Orlando Health Survivors Walk traces the journey many victims and first responders took to reach the Orlando Regional Medical Center.

The global design competition, which launched in March 2019, welcomed 68 submissions from 19 countries. Six finalist teams unveiled their concepts last month for a public viewing and comment period. Reviewing more than 2,300 comments, a jury of onePULSE members and other community leaders selected a winning design team.

The top concept, serving as a basis for the final design, will continue to be refined based on community feedback. Construction on the memorial and museum is set to begin in 2021.

Coldefy & Associés with RDAI/onePULSE Foundation
Coldefy & Associés with RDAI/onePULSE Foundation
Coldefy & Associés with RDAI/onePULSE Foundation
Coldefy & Associés with RDAI/onePULSE Foundation

“The National Pulse Memorial & Museum will honor the 49 lives taken and all those affected while also educating visitors and future generations on the profound impact the tragedy had on Orlando, the U.S. and the world,” says Barbara Poma, club co-owner and onePULSE Foundation CEO, who adds that the project “will include robust community engagement.”

“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,” says Thomas Coldefy, principal of Coldefy & Associés. “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.”

“We will never bring back the 49 innocent victims whose lives were taken on June 12, 2016, or erase the pain that the horrific act brought to so many, but the establishment of this memorial is an important part of our community healing process,” says Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, a design jury member. “Additionally, the museum will not only serve as an important place for dialogue and education, but also further Orlando’s legacy of being a place of belonging, acceptance and respect for all.”

Last May the onePULSE Foundation created a temporary memorial on the site. The National Pulse Memorial will be built on the site of the Pulse nightclub; the museum and education center will be located nearby at 438 West Kaley Street.

As NewNowNext reported in June, the Pulse site could also become a federal landmark, designating the memorial as part of the National Park System.

The National Pulse Memorial & Museum, projected to open in 2022, will be free and open to the public year-round.

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