The Memorial Courtyard
The design process began by reframing the church grounds to create a sacred space for a memorial and a garden space to honor the survivors. A Memorial Courtyard was designed in honor of the spirit and fellowship of the Emanuel Nine as space for the congregation and the community. It encourages positive change, while also creating a space to reflect in quiet contemplation.
This coming together is encouraged through the creation of two fellowship benches facing each other. An opening between the two benches widens towards the entrance, welcoming strangers to enter and join in the spirit of community. The high backs of the benches arc up and around, like sheltering wings. They provide a sense of enclosure, and like a pair of arms, cradling visitors inside this space.
At the center of the Memorial, the curve of the stone benches encircle a marble fountain. The names of the Emanuel Nine are carved around the fountain’s edge. Water emanates from a cross-shaped source, filling the basin and gently spilling over the names of the Emanuel Nine.