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Artist's Temple Will Be Burned to Ground After Memorializing MSD Victims

San Francisco-area artist David Best created "The Temple of Time"

An artist's temple memorializing the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting opened in Coral Springs Thursday and will stand for three months before it's burned to the ground.

San Francisco-area artist David Best created "The Temple of Time," which at 1,600 square feet represents the indefinite period it will take for the community to come to grips with the 2018 tragedy. The nearly 40-foot tall structure is an Asian design with a spire roof that has intricate designs cut into it.

"It is a big, ornate structure that someone will come and put their faith in. I am the carpenter; I don't write the doctrine," Best said. "Each person can come in with whatever they have."

Best rejected naming it "The Temple of Healing" because he said that is impossible for the victims and their families. Since 2000, he has built such temples worldwide, including at Nevada's Burning Man festival after a protege died in a motorcycle accident, in Northern Ireland for those killed in political strife and in Nepal for the 2015 earthquake victims. Like those structures, the Stoneman Douglas temple will be burned along with whatever mementos, writings and art that mourners leave behind. That ceremony will happen in May.

"The initial reaction (people have) is, 'This is really crazy, why are you burning this? It is really beautiful.' But at the end of the period it usually makes sense to everyone," said volunteer Paul Walker, an English artist who now lives in San Francisco. "The fire is very therapeutic."

Most construction materials and other expenses are being paid by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's public arts foundation, but neither Best nor his workers are paid.

"When the smoke goes up and the flames go up, it will have a great meaning," said volunteer Tony Bianco, an Army veteran and artist from Coral Gables.

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