Moultrie News, Zach Giroux, 7/30/2018
The National Medal of Honor Museum (NMHM) held its second stakeholder meeting Thursday evening inside a tightly-packed ballroom at Alhambra Hall. The purpose of the meeting was for the NMHM committee to propose redesign schemes since the museum’s initial design was rejected by the town last May due to height restrictions.
Museum officials introduced modified versions of its original scheme, calling for a structure that stood 120-feet tall (same height of the U.S.S. Yorktown) on a parcel with a maximum height of 50 feet. Since then, NMHM CEO Joe Daniels and lead architect Moshe Safdie came up with two secondary schemes, Pavilion and Village, in hopes of meeting the town’s criteria.
The Pavilion scheme features a more close-knit version of the original scheme, at a height of 99 feet, members of the community agreed that the intimacy of the “singular structure” spoke to the community’s strength and was a favorite among the majority of stakeholders.
The Village scheme received a very stark reaction from stakeholders in comparison to the Pavilion. At a height of 70 feet, the structure featured a more spread-out, star-shape design with several buildings interconnected as opposed to having one main center of focus. Members of the community felt this was not all encompassing nor wholesome, attendees shouted out that the design looked like a “stick village” and “condos” which received expressions of laughter indicating widespread disapproval.
“I’m not really thrilled with the design of the (Village) buildings themselves. They’re very plain looking and I’m not saying they should be just a monumental building, but they don’t reflect any part of our culture or anything you seen in this area,” said former town councilmember Jimmy Bagwell.
Real-time polls indicated the Pavilion scheme was much more preferable than the Village scheme, at least in the eyes of the Mount Pleasant residents. Cost analyses showed that the Pavilion scheme was also slightly less expensive to maintain and both schemes are cheaper than the original.
Safdie admitted that after seeing and hearing the community’s feedback between the two schemes, he said he shared a similar sentiment “When it was all said and done it didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel like it rose to the occasion. It needed to be more unified, it needed more togetherness and I think the (Pavilion) scheme is superior to the original scheme. It sits more comfortably in the landscape and holds its own. It’s the right balance between the trees, vegetation and structure of the neighboring buildings.”
Daniels projects the museum, regardless of which design is chosen, will cost north of $100 million. Adequate funds have not been raised yet on account of the museum’s early design phase. Daniels expects the museum to attract approximately up to 500,000 visitors annually.
“I’m 100 percent agnostic in the sense that the most important thing about this decision is the one that gets it done. Because at the end of the day, every week, month, year that goes by where some family can’t bring their kid to get this education is a wasted opportunity for our country,” Daniels said. “Both new designs are tremendous and we will make either one work and either one will make this town, city, state and country proud.”
The tentative date for construction to be completed is March 25, 2023, which coincides with Medal of Honor Day’s national holiday.
“I think this will be an extension of our town pride and I think we’ll move forward and honor the Medal of Honor and I think we will also honor the Town of Mount Pleasant,” said Joe Bustos, Mount Pleasant Town Councilmember and Planning Commission chairman. “It’s a very deep and sometimes hurtful task that we have but we will accomplish the task.”
To take a survey on the current designs, visit mohmuseum.org. or facebook.com/mohmuseum.
The final meeting is set for Aug. 21 at Wando High School. The time has yet to be announced.
Attendance for future meetings can be confirmed by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 843-654-9469.