International competition underway for Pulse Memorial and Museum architect

Design will integrate original Pulse building

By Kelly Pepperman - Producer, Nadeen Yanes - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - The onePULSE Foundation is launching an international competition for the design of the Pulse Memorial and Museum set to open at the site of the Pulse nightclub shooting, where 49 people were killed in 2016.

Barbara Poma, the owner of Pulse, said the project has been restorative for her in the years since the mass shooting. 

“This is my project, this is my therapy, this has kept me going. I call it keeping me vertical,” Poma said. 

Barbara Poma, owner of Pulse nightclub.

Poma’s nightclub, which is still intact, will be incorporated in the overall design of the memorial. The 30,000 square feet museum will also include a pedestrian pathway called “Survivors Walk”. It will trace the three blocks many victims and survivors walked from the nightclub to Orlando Regional Medical Center the night of the shooting. 

Pulse nightclub on June 12, 2016.

“Most of the memorials and museums that we had visited had always had something on their plaza that talked something about the survivors, their stories of the survivors, because they don't often get told,” Poma said.

The museum will also highlight the history of LGBTQ and safe spaces as well as the importance of inclusion and diversity. Pulse was a popular gay nightclub.

A group of onePULSE stakeholders, local leaders, architects, Pulse shooting survivors and some of the victims’ families are part of the group that will select a winning design in October.

The open competition will be held in two stages. First, the six teams competing will need to fill out the request for qualifications no later than 3 p.m. on April 30. Then, selected teams will develop a concept design and meet with onePulse leaders for a site tour and again for a review before a winner is selected.

The nonprofit is working with the country’s leading independent architect selection firm, Dovetail Design Strategists, to develop the competition. President Susanna Sirefman explained why the project is international.

“It's a tragic event that touched everyone, you know, the world watched and the world mourned, and it makes completely total sense to run a worldwide, international design competition,” Sirefman said.

The public will have a chance to review the designs and share their input in September at the Orange County Regional History Center.

The Pulse Memorial and Museum will be free and open to the public 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is set to open in 2022.

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