Architect unveils plans for Charleston church shooting memorial

Architect Michael Arad of New York-based firm Handel Architects unveiled plans for a memorial to the nine people killed in a mass shooting at The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. Photo courtesy Handel Architects

July 17 (UPI) — The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., unveiled designs for a permanent memorial dedicated to the nine people killed in a mass shooting there in 2015.

The Emanuel Nine Memorial was designed by architect Michael Arad of New York-based firm Handel Architects and will serve as a space dedicated to the clergy and church members who were murdered by white supremacist Dylann Roof.

“The church grounds have been reorganized to create a sacred space to honor those slain, as well as a garden space to honor the survivors,” the firm said.

The memorial includes a courtyard with two large, arching benches facing each other with a marble fountain in the center with the names of the Emanuel Nine — the Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, the Rev. DePayne Middleton Doctor, Cynthia Hurd, Ethel Lee Lance, Susie Jackson, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, the Rev. Daniel Simmons and Myra Thompson — carved around the edges.

It also features a survivor’s garden “dedicated to life and resiliency” of those who lived through the shooting.

“These spaces will be a place for the congregation and the community, encouraging people of all backgrounds and walks of life to come together to realize positive change, while also creating a space to reflect in quiet contemplation,” Handel Architects said.

Arad, who also designed the National September 11 Memorial in New York, said the memorial was designed in a way that the church itself would never be overshadowed.

“The church is at the middle, at the heart of everything that we’ve done here, and I hope you see that,” he said. “And we thought: ‘What could we do to, figuratively, elevate the church? To consecrate its grounds to suggest that these church grounds have been sanctified through loss.'”

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said the memorial will serve as a reminder to the world that “love is stronger than hate.”

A foundation connected to the church is seeking an estimated $15 million to $20 million, to pay for construction costs and for establishing an endowment for maintenance and security as well as educational programming for the church, the campaign’s co-chariman John Darby told The New York Times.

The campaign’s other chairman and the church’s pastor, the Rev. Eric S.C. Manning, said he was determined to ensure the memorial won’t become a financial burden on the church.

“We will want to have the best possible support from the community, and dare we even say, the world,” he said. “This memorial will not just remind the congregation of what we have gone through but also remind the world that forgiveness is, of course, very important.”


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