From 1981 to 1995, there were more cumulative deaths from the AIDS epidemic in New York City than total U.S. deaths in the Vietnam War, yet as some have pointed out, there is no significant memorial to those losses in the city of New York — aside from a bench in the Hudson River Park. There is now a movement to build a deserving memorial and Architizer and Architectural Record have launched an official design competition. The site up for design is the triangular plot of land in the West Village that is located across the street from the old St. Vincent’s Hospital, one of the first locations to treat those affected by HIV and AIDS in the 1980s.
The site proposed consists of 16,000 square feet of above ground space intended to be a green space — which is currently a public garden and an empty storage building that belonged to the hospital — and 10,000 feet of basement area that the coalition believes could be transformed into a museum and learning environment dedicated to the AIDS epidemic. “We envision AIDS Memorial Park as a vital community park that integrates green public space with a living memorial. We believe that our design process will engage the best architects, and landscape and urban designers to propose inspirational, imaginative and thoughtful alternative solutions for the park and underground space,” said Keith Fox, Chairman of AIDS Memorial Park’s Executive Committee.
Entries to the competition are being accepted from now until January 21st, 2012 on Architizer. Michael Arad, designer of the National September 11 Memorial, is the chair of the jury and is joined by quite a few notable figures, including Elizabeth Diller founding partner of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, who helped design the High Line; Robert Hammond founder of Friends of the High Line; Dr. Marjorie Hill, CEO of Gay Men’s Health Crisis; Richard Meier, Managing Partner, Richard Meier & Partners Architects; and Suzanne Stephens, Deputy Editor, Architectural Record, among others.
“I am honored to chair the jury for the NYC AIDS Memorial Park. The redesign of the grounds of the old St. Vincent’s hospital has afforded a unique opportunity to create a meaningful public space,” Michael Arad said of the project. “My fellow jurors and I are looking forward to reviewing proposals that imagine both a neighborhood park that will serve the surrounding community, and a significant memorial that can serve as a symbolic touchstone as we commemorate 30 years of the AIDS epidemic.”