Sunday, November 24, 2019

Pulse Temporary Memorial Dedication

The interim memorial design was created by the team of by Kody Smith, Christina Hite, and Greg Bryla, of the landscape architecture firm of Dix.Hite + Partners, and David Stone of Phil Kean Design, all of who worked closely with onePULSE Foundation’s memorial task force. Pam Schwartz of the Orange County Regional History Center worked on supplying the hundreds of photos from the history museum's collection used on a winding wall that surrounds the club. Many of local photographer J.D. Casto's photos cover the wall. He was at the GLBT Center on the morning following the shooting and his photos document the outpouring of love and support that followed this horrible tragedy.

The scene was already crowded when I arrived at the club. Families of victims and survivors were seated. Since I had my own artist stool, I set up in front of one of the new trees on site and started to sketch. I focused on Christina Hite while she spoke at the podium. Greg Bryla is a dedicated Urban Sketcher, so I was pleased to know he had a hand in helping design this temporary memorial. An unexpected aspect of the temporary memorial is that there is a window in the surrounding wall allowing visitors to see the spot where the club was breached by the swat team so that the hostages held in the bathrooms could escape. Bullet holes litter the brickwork around the blast hole. This is where the terrorist was finally killed.

The architect firm of Coldefy and AssociƩs has recently won the deign competition to create a permanent memorial at this site. Their design surrounds the Pulse Nightclub building with a pool and fountain that has 49 colors in concentric circles radiating from the pool's center. The typical rainbow, (ROYGBIV) only has 7 colors. If you multiply that by 7 you get 49 colors. Another aspect of their design that I like is a circular canopy that supplies shade for anyone visiting the site. They also had elegantly incorporated a wall separating the quiet space from the sound of traffic on Orange Avenue. The most striking feature is that the club is cleaved in half, creating a canyon like space that people can walk through. 49 trees will cover the site creating a garden to celebrate life.

The Pulse Museum design looks a bit like a futuristic reactor. It has a slatted white exterior that is squeezed in the middle with an undulating roof profile. Glimpses inside show a twisting staircase and plants, echoing features of the memorial, and a large circular opening that floods natural light into the space. There are large public areas where the community can gather to learn and have events. It is an exciting design that would immediately become a defining landmark of the SODO area. Green spaces radiate from the club beautifying the district. Only time will tell how much of this amazing design will become reality. The Museum and Memorial are both intended to open in 2022.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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