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Gustafson Porter + Bowman joins big names shortlisted for Orlando massacre memorial

Pulse Nightclub, Orlando
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A team led by Heneghan Peng Architects featuring landscape architect Gustafson Porter + Bowman has been shortlisted to design a $45 million memorial and museum dedicated to the victims and survivors of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting

The duo are up against five international teams led by Studio Libeskind, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Rotterdam-based MVRDV, French firm Coldefy & Associés and Boston’s MASS Design Group.

The winning team will deliver a memorial, museum and ‘Survivors Walk’ commemorating the terrorist attack on the Pulse gay nightclub which killed 49 people and wounded 68 others.

The competition, curated by Dovetail Design Strategists on behalf of the onePULSE Foundation, received 168 submissions from 19 different countries. Gustafson Porter + Bowman’s shortlisting comes just a week after it won a competition to design a £35 million overhaul of the spaces around the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

onePULSE Foundation chief executive Barbara Poma said: ‘Three years after the tragedy, the world continues to stand in solidarity with our community and in support of the 49, the survivors and the first responders. This is reflected in the significant response to our competition announcement and the interest from architects and designers from around the world.

‘We are humbled by the depth of talent represented among the submissions and the teams shortlisted for the competition. We will be able to create a historic institution honouring the sacredness of this event and supporting the mission of onePULSE, while bringing world-class architecture and design to Orlando.’

Dovetail Design Strategists president Susanna Sirefman said: ‘The design competition for the National Pulse Memorial & Museum has captured the attention of the global architecture and design community. It has attracted an incredible range of architects who are not only very talented but importantly stand in solidarity with Pulse and the Orlando community.

‘The selected teams’ submissions were notably moving in their display of empathetic sensibilities combined with a deep understanding of the complexity and urban scale of this project. The competition was designed to realise both. We are excited to see what this outstanding shortlist of six teams develop in the next stage of the competition.’

The six finalists will each receive $50,000 to draw up design concepts. The contest comes a year after an ‘Ideas Generator’ was held to promote debate over the future of the prominent South Orange Avenue site, which has been closed since the mass shooting and is now surrounded by a commemorative hoarding.

The onePULSE Foundation was created by the owner of the nightclub, Rubenstein, to create a fitting memorial and museum for all those affected following the attack. 

The project, planned to complete in 2022, will deliver a landmark new 2,800m² museum providing an ‘architecturally iconic place for remembrance, education, inspiration and hope’ with public gathering and community spaces.

The ‘Survivors Walk’ will connect important local landmarks associated with the tragedy, while the memorial will be ‘open to the public year-round, seven-days a week, 24-hours a day’.

An overall winner will be announced in October.

The full shortlist

  • Coldefy & Associés with RDAI, Xavier Veilhan, dUCKS scéno, Agence TER, Prof. Laila Farah
  • Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rene Gonzalez Architects with Raymond Jungles, Inc.
  • Heneghan Peng Architects, Gustafson Porter + Bowman, Sven Anderson & Pentagram
  • MASS Design Group, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Sasaki, Sanford Biggers, Richard Blanco, Porsha Olayiwola
  • MVRDV, Grant Associates, GSM Project and Studio Drift
  • Studio Libeskind with Claude Cormier + Associés, Thinc, and Jenny Holzer
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