Officials announced Saturday that one of the designers of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum will create a memorial to the victims of the June 2015 mass shooting at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church.
Michael Arad, a partner at Handel Architects in New York City, said he was honored and humbled to be working on a memorial to the nine victims of a racially-motivated attack that shocked Charleston, South Carolina and the nation.
"I feel very privileged to be here but I also feel the weight of this responsibility and pray that I will find the means to convey the beauty that I've seen here in Charleston," Arad said.
The design process is in its beginning stages, he said, adding that he plans to meet with the survivors, the families of the victims who died and other members of the congregation to gain further perspective for the project.
"It's completely open, a blank page," Arad said.
He was chosen from more than 5,000 applicants in 2003 to design the memorial at the World Trade Center.
Planning for the Emanuel memorial began in July 2015 when The Beach Company, which is based in Charleston, approached the Rev. Norvel Goff, Sr., presiding elder of the Edisto District of the AME Church, and asked to create a memorial fund and community partnership with the church.
The fund was established through The Matching Fund, a Charleston-based nonprofit.
"It's of course a day that we shall never forget, but it is our prayer that the memorial will keep the memories of the Emanuel 9 and honor the resilience of the survivors and remind the world that love is definitely stronger than hate," said the Rev. Eric S.C. Manning, pastor of the church. "It is our hope that his work on our memorial will invoke the weight of the tragedy as well and send an inspiring mandate for positive change to this world."