Lowcountry residents will have their first chance to discuss a new design for the National Medal of Honor Museum near Patriots Point in a forum aboard the Yorktown on Wednesday.
Moshe Safdie, the internationally known Boston-based architect of the original design that town planners rejected because of its height, is scheduled to be part of the discussion.
"He wants to hear firsthand from the community," National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation CEO Joe Daniels said. "He was very insistent that he be here."
This is the first of three community meetings to discuss ideas for the museum. The previous design was unveiled three years ago with little input from the community and rejected when it came before town planning officials.
Daniels, who led the drive to build the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York, took over the helm of the museum foundation this spring with a promise to make up for past mistakes.
"This meeting is about keeping a connection between residents of the community and the project," Daniels said. "I’m hoping for an active dialogue. We want to hear people’s hopes and aspirations for the project."
The site near the Ravenel Bridge where the museum will be built is zoned for 50 feet, but the planning commission said they would consider 80 feet. The previous design was 125 feet tall. It was argued that the extra height was appropriate for an iconic building, but town officials didn't buy it.
Daniels will continue to emphasize that this isn't just another development project.
"I think it will also be an opportunity to talk about … what it means to bring people together around what it means to be an American," he said. "Building issues are important, but also important is why we’re building this museum.”
Raising the money for the project is also a priority, though a cost estimate can't be set until a new design is finalized. The first step is rebuilding the board after half of them quit last year. Previous chairman Bill Phillips has been replaced by Peter Stent, a Nevada rancher and philanthropist who is scheduled to attend the forum Wednesday.
"He’s tremendously philanthropic and a huge supporter of the military," Daniels said. "Equally important as the design of this building is we need to rebuild and expand this board to reflect the national aspirations of the project."