The Architecture provides a protective shell around the names of the lost ones. Family members, the people of Beirut and visitors to the city can see the landmark from a great distance. Coming from sea or from air or on foot, the building is also a sculpture standing free in the landscape on the epicenter of the explosion, its beauty reminding us forever of the tragedy that took place on this point in the city.
The memorial building has two levels and offers the visitor three phases of spatial experience or levels of dialog with the tragedy and with the memory of the deceased.
Spatial experience one is the area of information transfer, a garden of remembrance.
The visitor approaches the shell structure from below, in a waiting garden, places to sit and to reflect can be found placed in this urban landscape. People sit and talk under the cooling shade of the shell structure above. This is a piazza, a meeting point, a place to hold respectful events. It is also a place where information regarding the tragedy can be read and discussed. This is the area of facts and data, open communication and debate.
The second phase is the assent into the shells above.
This assent begins by taking the bridge over the water to the ramp that takes the visitor up into the level of the open shell rising above. The spectacular walk is an architectural promenade around the base of the shells and up into the volumes. It takes some time, is a slow assent and allows the visitor to cleanse his or her mind of the everyday noise below. It is also possible to take a lift to the shells above from the same point in the garden of remembrance below.
Once arriving the visitor is confronted with a magnificent view over the bay and the opening of the shells to the inner sanctum of the cave like volume created by a second shell that cantilevers out over the open sea. The visitor sees that in the darkness of the shaded inner world between the two shells a large white pearl like object stands in water. This pearl like object has all the names of the deceased engraved on it and their names reflect in the memory pool in which it sits.
The visitor now can experience the third phase of their personal dialog with the tragedy by moving into the inner sanctum of the cave, the next world, by descending into the shallow ankle high water. A ramp facilitates wheelchairs and disabled or visitors who choose not to enter the water.Inside the Inner sanctum the visitor can now see that the outer word of the daylight recedes and an acoustic of peace and reflection envelops them. The pearl like object shines in the light of the inner world. The ceiling above is mirrored.
The names of the deceased can be seen reflected in the water and in the ceiling, as are the visitors and a unison of all is for a moment imaginable.The view back out through the gap between the two shells of the open sea is now a horizontal line of light broken only by the black shadows of the visitors entering and leaving the inner sanctum.
Walking around the pool the visitor sees the sea being mirrored in the inner world above their heads through the cantilevered shell.
At night the Shells have a lit glow and the pearl of memory in the inner world lights.