French firm Coldefy & Associés with RDAI and the Orlando-based HHCP Architects have won the international competition to design the National Pulse Memorial & Museum in Florida. The tripartite design beat out the other five shortlisted entries which included heavy-hitting global firms like MVRDV, MASS Design Group, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. 

Announced today by the onePULSE Foundation, team Coldefy’s memorial and museum master plan will be dedicated to the 49 angels—those who lost their lives—and survivors of the horrific shooting that occurred at the LGBTQ+ PULSE nightclub in Orlando on June 12, 2016. French artist Xavier Veilhan, dUCKs scéno, and landscape design practice Agence TER will collaborate as part of the design team, while Laila Farah, professor of women’s and gender studies, as well as peace, justice and conflict studies at DePaul University, will serve as a consultant on the project.  

Thomas Coldefy, principal of Coldefy & Associés, called the opportunity a beautiful, collective adventure. “This is a deeply meaningful project that reminds us how much architecture and landscape can influence our behavior and have an impact on our community,” he said in a statement. “Together, we have an opportunity to reclaim a place from terror and darkness and create a new reality, one that brings people together in celebration of joy and love.”

The decision to choose Coldefy’s design, which was selected by a jury of onePULSE community members and civic leaders, was based on a month-long commentary period in which victims’ families, survivors, first responders, and the public expressed their views on each entry. Led by Dovetail Design Strategies, the competition was launched in March and concluded with today’s design release. A father of a Pulse angel noted how Coldefy’s vision for the masterplan physically lit up what’s been—for three years—a dark part of the city.

“The Museum has a lightness in design, but captures what the Pulse museum should be: A place to educate and bring a message of hope to the world,” he said. “…That protruding light up to the sky sends a signal to the world inviting them to come see what Pulse represented.”

Rendering of memorial pathway with rainbow colored palette on basin of reflection pool

The original nightclub building will feature a central cutout where visitors can walk through a pathway of reflection. (Courtesy Coldefy & Associés with RDAI/onePULSE Foundation)

Towering above Orlando’s upcoming SoDo neighborhood, the open-air museum structure will spiral up and above the memorial site, allowing visitors to climb to the top, where light will illuminate the entire structure at night. The existing nightclub will remain on-site but will be sliced in half, making room for an intimate pathway through the building. A reflecting pool featuring a rainbow-colored basin will surround the club and a gathering space at the back of the memorial will provide moments of respite or quiet conversation. 

The design team will also revamp West Kaley Street where the memorial and museum is located, bringing in more room for walking, biking, and public transit. Accessibility will be at the heart of the infrastructure design. 

Coldefy is expected to work with the onePULSE Foundation and the community over the next year to refine the design.

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