Michael Arad, the architect behind New York’s 9/11 Memorial, has revealed plans for a monument dedicated to the victims of a shooting massacre that took place at Charleston’s Mother Emanuel AME Church.
The Emanuel Nine Memorial will recognise those who were killed and wounded in the racially motivated Charleston church shooting on 17 June 2015. White supremacist Dylann Roof opened fire during an evening service, murdering nine African American attendees and injuring five.
Located on the church grounds, Arad’s monument will comprise two longs benches facing each other across a courtyard, with a low-level marble fountain in between. Water will emerge from a cross-shaped opening in the dipped basin and eventually spill over its sides, where the names of the nine victims will be inscribed in gold.
The design offers a small-scale interpretation of the 9/11 Memorial that Arad completed with landscape architect Peter Walker in 2011 to commemorate the terrorist attacks on New York’s World Trade Center.
Huge waterfalls cascade into pools that trace the exact footprints of the destroyed Twin Towers, with the names of those lost inscribed around the edge.
At the Emanuel Nine Memorial, the seats facing the water feature will have high rounded backs to cocoon visitors. Each will rise in height from the rear to the front to create a swooping shape.
An opening between the benches will lead to a small altar, located in a corner at the rear of courtyard. Here, a white cross will be mounted onto a brick wall, and low pews will be provided for pause and prayer.
Accessed via a pathway from the courtyard, a garden will feature six stone benches and five trees that represent the five who survived the attack. The sixth bench represents the church.
The Israeli-American architect intends the Emanuel Nine Memorial to not only recognise the shooting, but also acknowledge the history of the 202-year-old church. Established in 1971 as a union of both free black people and slaves, it is recognised as having the country’s oldest black congregation historically.
“The inspiration for this memorial draws on Mother Emanuel AME Church as a historic place and as a congregation,” said Arad in a statement. “Throughout its 200-year history, it has endured slavery, discrimination and racism. When worship and assembly were banned, the church resisted and provided a place of fellowship and sanctuary.
“The Emanuel Nine tragedy marks another dark moment for the church, though faith helped to heal and bring light into the darkness,” he added.
Also in the American south, a memorial and museum dedicated to the legacy of racial violence and injustice in the country opened in Montgomery, Alabama, earlier this year.
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