Designing a memorial is a challenge of crafting a moment of pause – a slight change in one’s daily activity to experience a sense of place to respectively reflect and acknowledge. While memorializing a historical event, such as a war or a cultural achievement, has a definitive beginning and end – a set number of deaths, or a memorable proclamation declared on a set date – the act of memorializing the AIDS epidemic has no such tangible point in history. ”AIDS is not a war, nor a disease conquered. In our design process, we emphasize the changing and varied ways through which AIDS affects us personally and as a society. It is important to create a space that conveys our sense of solemn respect, remembrance and loss, without resorting to symbolism around a date, image, or names, ” explained Mateo Paiva and Esteban Erlich of the Brooklyn-based firm studio a+i, the winners of an international design competition for an AIDS memorial at St. Vincent’s Hospital Park.
Set within the western tip of a triangular-shaped plot of land created by Seventh Avenue, 12th Street and Greenwich Avenue, the memorial will honor not only the city’s 100,000+ men, women and children who have died from AIDS, but also the efforts of the caregivers and activists who respond to the crisis. After drastically transforming the design to address community concerns about safety and to fit within the confines of a downsized site, studio a+i ’s new design has just received approval from Community Board 2 and will proceed to the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the City Planning Commission.
More after the AIDS memorial after the break.