The Oak Ridge International Friendship Bell has become an iconic symbol of Oak Ridge and a source of much pride. The bell is in need of a new home, and the community is invited to participate in planning for a new Peace Pavilion to house the International Friendship Bell at 5:30-7:00 p.m. Thursday, August 13, at the Oak Ridge High School Amphitheater.

The Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Advisory Board and the Youth Advisory Board are hosting this community input session, where two proposed designs for a new pavilion will be presented. The board wants to hear opinions from the community, which will be important in determining the pavilion’s design. The International Friendship Bell Advisory Committee supports the designs and will assist with the community input session and fundraising for the pavilion.

A monument to peace and friendship with Japan, the bell was designed and cast to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the City of Oak Ridge. The bell was removed last year from the original wood pavilion, which had deteriorated after housing the bell for nearly 20 years in A. K. Bissell Park. The need for a new pavilion allows for a new expression of the bell and its place in Oak Ridge.

The new designs being considered surround the bell with open space and a greatly enlarged plaza. A community gathering place is envisioned, with an open design that invites large groups to gather at the bell.

The redesign of the Peace Pavilion comes at an opportune time. With the advent of the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park, the bell and its Peace Pavilion will add a significant and thought-provoking element to the Heritage Tourism destination that Oak Ridge is expected to become.

The new pavilion will be constructed with an initial investment from the City of Oak Ridge, contributions from local companies and individuals, and with international cooperation. Local Rotary Clubs are supporting the new Peace Pavilion. Oak Ridge’s Sister City, Naka, Japan, has committed to make a significant contribution to the new pavilion.

Two architectural concepts for the Peace Pavilion have been developed by Washington, DC, architect Ziad Demian. Barge, Waggoner, Sumner and Cannon, Inc., has assessed the feasibility of the designs and developed detailed cost estimates.

Community input will help determine exactly which design to pursue, so plan to help make this pivotal decision at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, August 13 at the Oak Ridge High School Amphitheater.