The proposed competition design for the Pulse Memorial & Museum in Orlando, Florida, by Rene Gonzalez Architects and Diller Scofidio + Renfro reconsiders the program by consolidating the Pulse Archive of artifacts at the Memorial, maintaining that everything related to the remembrance of Pulse should remain on the original site, rather than relocated to the site designated for a new museum. As a result, the museum site can be redefined as a flexible support facility for the Memorial, developed thoughtfully with engagement with the community to respond to their needs over time. This departure from the competition brief’s directives is one of the key approaches that distinguishes the team’s response from the proposals of their six fellow shortlisted finalists.
The design team – comprised of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rene Gonzalez Architects with Raymond Jungles, Teresita Fernández, and Oliver Beer – developed a Memorial design proposing a garden and sanctuary that is both solemn and celebratory. The sanctuary sits within a contemplative sound garden of cypress trees and natural ponds, with 268 reflective columns, each of which honors the life of an individual who was affected but survived the shooting. Integrated into these columns is a sound installation that creates a symphony of music as visitors approach. A delicately draped, beaded shroud protects the walls of the original club. Ascending above the original structure, visitors enter the sanctuary, which is supported by 49 rainbow-colored ceramic tile columns commemorating the 49 lives taken. They dance and ascend towards the sky, unbroken and strong, while physically supporting the roof and the floor. Circular glass openings surrounding these columns open views down to the original club and dance floor below, while tinted glass skylights fill the space with shimmering colored light from above. A perimeter scrim covered with mementos left by mourners displays the names of the 49 victims.