onePULSE Foundation’s Barbara Poma discusses the future of the Pulse memorial and museum

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Barbara Poma speaks during the two-year mark of the Pulse tragedy at the interim memorial. Photo by Maia Monet

ORLANDO | The onePULSE foundation announced March 25 that it is launching an international design competition challenging architects from around the world to create a unique and iconic National Pulse Memorial and Museum.

While the look of the final project will be left to the winning design team, the competition does layout three key elements that will be a part of the finished product: a memorial, a museum and pedestrian pathway known as “Survivors Walk.”

“It’s a huge urban planning project so there’s quite a bit of time and planning going into it,” says Barbara Poma, founder of onePULSE and owner of the Pulse nightclub. “We hope to have it completed and open by 2022 so we have just three years to get it planned and get the funds raised.”

Poma says the Pulse building will be integrated into the overall design of the memorial but doesn’t know to what extent just yet.

“We feel like it’s right to keep the building standing because it’s part of history but I don’t know if people should be walking through it, I don’t know if they should be walking above it, I don’t know if we should keep it closed for 20 years. I don’t know at this moment what the right thing to do is. I just know that in long-term history we need to have it,” Poma says.

Poma says the intention is to keep the main focus of the memorial on the victims, the survivors and the first responders while the museum—which due to space restrictions will be at a separate location from the memorial—will focus on the events from the tragedy and the importance of LGBTQ safe spaces.

“This community defined safe spaces generations ago and there’s a reason why Pulse was so impactful around the world. It’s because it was a truly defined safe space for a specific community,” Poma says. “It’s important that people know what these safe spaces mean to this community.”

Poma says the 30,000-square-foot museum will feature a permanent Pulse exhibit as well as host temporary exhibits. The space will also include outdoor, public gathering and community spaces, and an auditorium.

Survivors Walk, the third stage of the project, is a walking path that traces the three-block journey many victims and survivors took the night of the tragedy to get to the Orlando Regional Medical Center (ORMC).

“Our survivor stories happen between Pulse and ORMC’s trauma center,” Poma says. “Whether they ran there, got carried there, put in the backs of trucks or ambulances; however they got to Orlando Health, that is a part of their stories we want to tell so Survivors Walk will do that.”

Survivors Walk will connect Pulse to the Orlando Health Memorial Paver Garden, adjacent to Lake Beauty. Parts of the path will extend further north to the Dr. Phillips Center.

The selection process for the competition will be conducted in two stages. First, a jury comprised of onePULSE stakeholders, civic decision makers, global thought leaders and world-renowned architects will review initial submissions and select six firms and their proposed teams to participate in stage two. The shortlisted teams will be invited to develop a concept design for the project and the jury will select a winning team by October.

For more information on the design competition, visit onePULSEFoundation.org.

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