A group of survivors from the deadly 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida are protesting the creation of a museum and memorial for the tragedy – which firms including Studio Libeskind and Diller Scofidio + Renfro are vying to build.
The group, called Community Coalition Against a Pulse Museum, formed last month to demand the project be cancelled and that funds be given to help those suffering instead. Members of the group include survivors, victims' families and activists.
"We humbly ask the public, as well as all private and corporate donors, to give their money to organisations that provide lifetime care to survivors and not towards the expensive museum project, which is expected to cost $40 million (£32.7 million) to build and $7.2 million (£5.9 million) to run annually," the group said.
The shooting took place at Pulse nightclub, which was popular among the LGBT+ community, on 12 June 2016. Omar Mateen opened fire, killing 49 and injuring 68.
Memorial and museum to be built at Pulse
Nightclub founder Barbara Poma formed non-profit One Pulse following the mass-shooting to raise funds for a permanent memorial and accompanying museum on the site of the club, at 1912 S Orange Avenue. High-profile architecture firms including Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Daniel Libeskind's firm Studio Libeskind and MVRDV are currently in the running to design the project.
Protestors have taken issue with the notion of a paid-for museum dedicated to such an event. "Put people first," said Community Coalition Against a Pulse Museum. "We care more about our survivors than educating tourists."
"Survivors should be taken care of, not taken advantage of," it added. "No memorial should be built on the property privately owned by Barbara Poma."
Protestor Christine Leinonen has described it as a memorial "to capitalise on the lives lost" in the petition she has launched against the project on Change.org – which has 44,743 signatures at the time of publishing.
"This memorial would be opened to capitalise on the lives lost," said Leinonen. "A place where you can buy T-shirts, hats, souvenirs and memorabilia, and walk through and experience the bloodshed first hand. For profit."
Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Studio Libeskind among firms shortlisted
One Pulse includes a 20-member board of trustees and currently manages an "interim memorial". The team launched the contest calling for design proposals in March. A shortlist of six proposals was announced on 31 May featuring a number of high-profile firms.
Diller Scofidio + Renfro's team comprises Miami firm Rene Gonzalez Architects and American landscape architect Raymond Jungles, while Studio Libeskind is collaborating with Montreal landscape architecture firm Claude Cormier + Associés, Thinc Design and American artist Jenny Holzer.
Ralph Appelbaum Associates is shortlisted with MASS Design Group, Sasaki Associates, visual artist Sanford Biggers, and poets Richard Blanco and Porsha Olayiwola, while MVRDV is heading a team featuring Amsterdam's Studio Drift.
Memorial slated for completion in 2022
The design proposals are set to be revealed in October when a jury, including Orlando's mayor Buddy Dyer and mayor of greater Orange County Jerry Demings, will select the winning scheme. The completion is slated for 2022.
Pulse museum follows the model of other memorials sited at tragic locations, including New York City's September 11 Memorial & Museum located in the Financial District.
Similarly sited memorials are Emanuel Nine that commemorates the 2015 shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, as well as a memorial to commemorate late gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk in San Francisco's Castro District, the hub for the local LGBTQ community.
Photography is courtesy of Shutterstock.