The new Peace Pavilion for the Oak Ridge International Friendship Bell will be dedicated in a ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, September 20, at the Bell’s new site in A.K. Bissell Park. The Bell’s sound will resonate for the first time from its new location that evening, from a pavilion designed to project harmony, stability, innovation and peace.
“We would not be where we are today without the passion of Shigeko Uppuluri and her son, Ram Uppuluri, who initiated the project by connecting us with a visionary architect, Ziad Demian, who embraced not only the challenge of an innovative design but an entire city,” said Alan Tatum, who co-chaired the International Friendship Bell Citizens Advisory Committee with Pat Postma.
Postma added that the architect’s first elegant and contemporary designs introduced a different way of thinking about what was possible for the new Bell housing. That, and the decision to move the Bell to a new location will make it more visible and accessible to the community, with added benefits of gardens and gathering spaces on benches around the Bell, she said.
“This accomplishment and the fundraising it required was not just ambitious. It was probably audacious,” Postma said, “but Oak Ridge has a way of stepping up. Oak Ridgers are willing to support exceptional projects that speak for who we are as a city.”
Among those taking part in the dedication ceremony will be Mayor Warren Gooch, City Manager Mark Watson, Hiroyuki Kobayashi, Consul-General of Japan in Nashville, as well as Postma and Tatum. An ensemble from the Oak Ridge Civic Music Association will provide music. The community is invited to attend.
Tatum said that Postma’s dedicated fundraising efforts and a generous community of citizens, businesses, governments and major corporate sponsors not only met, but exceeded the aggressive fundraising goal. More than $800,000 has been raised for the Peace Pavilion, with the first contributions coming from Oak Ridge’s sister city of Naka, Japan, and from the Girl Scouts Oak Ridge Service Unit, which has established friendships with Girl Scouts in Naka.
The Bell, created for Oak Ridge’s 50th birthday at the recommendation of Shigeko and her late husband Ram Uppuluri, is being installed in its new Peace Pavilion during Oak Ridge’s 75th anniversary. It will bring its message of international peace and friendship to the thousands of visitors expected at the Manhattan Project National Historical Park in Oak Ridge.
The new pavilion for the Bell came about after Oak Ridge officials discovered that structural beams in the original Bell house had severely deteriorated. The Bell was removed from its housing and placed on timbers in A.K. Bissell Park in 2014. Then the City of Oak Ridge tasked the Recreation and Parks Advisory Board with making short-term and long-term recommendations. A decision was made to demolish the original pavilion. The Recreation and Parks Advisory Board formed the ad hoc International Friendship Bell Citizens Advisory Committee to develop a new pavilion design and raise funds for the project.
Demian, architect and founding partner of demian\wilbur\architects in Washington, D.C., who designed the new Peace Pavilion, said what began as a consultation evolved into a journey full of wonderful discoveries.
“This journey led to a vision culminating in this unique monument that is an expression of its core principles: ‘Born of war, living for peace, growing through science’ – an expression, in form and materials deliberately chosen to project permanence, stability, strength, as well as innovation, resilience, harmony and peace,” Demian said.
Cutlines: The new Peace Pavilion for the Oak Ridge International Friendship Bell will be dedicated Sept. 20 in A.K. Bissell Park. This architect’s rendering shows the large cantilever structure, crossed by a series of beams, that will support the Bell in its new location.
(Image courtesy of demian\wilbur\architects)