A rendering of Studio Libeskind's proposal for a new $40m museum on the site of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando Photo: Studio Libeskind/onePULSE Foundation
The six shortlisted designs for a memorial and museum on the site of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, where 49 people who were shot dead in June 2016—the deadliest attack in American history targetting the LGBTQ community—have been released for public comment by the onePULSE Foundation, a non-profit run by the clubs former owner Barbara Poma. Early reactions to the designs—by leading artists and architects like Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Studio Libeskind, and Jenny Holzer—have been mostly positive, although a group of activists, survivors and victims families continues to oppose plans for an expensive museum on the site, advocating instead for a centre to support survivors of mass shootings to be built alongside a memorial.
“While I am 100% in favour of some of those designs being incorporated into a dignified memorial and as a mass shooting support center, Im equally 100% against a project that will further enrich [Poma],” says Christine Leinonen, a key member of the Community Coalition Against a Pulse Museum and the mother of Pulse victim Drew Leinonen. “Many survivors and victims families are still in need of practical help and some will be for the rest of their lives,” Leinonen adds. “Its ugly and its raw and all of the beauty in the world of art and architecture will not erase this brutal contrast of realities.”
Zachary Blair, another member of the coalition and the author of an op-ed published in the Orlando Sentinel titled “Are tourism dollars more important than Pulse victims?” thinks “overall the designs are fine”. But they should be used for “something that will give victims free support and care for life and honour the 49 without privatising and monetising a public tragedy,” he says. “We should not be turning Orlandos mass shooting into another of the citys spectacles.”