In the fall of 2011 the NYC AIDS Memorial group held a design competition to solicit ideas for what the future NYC AIDS Memorial could look like. “Infinite Forest” was selected from nearly 500 submissions from around the world. We have continued to work with the winning design team, studio a+i, to design a memorial that incorporates the wishes of the community.
studio a+i: Mateo Paiva, Lily Lim, John Thurtle, Insook Kim, Esteban Erlich. Rendering by Guillaume Paturel
The act of memorializing the AIDS epidemic with a physical gesture goes beyond remembering and honoring the dead. AIDS is not a war, nor a disease conquered. There are no definite dates or victims. 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.
THE PARK INSIDE
An infinite forest, generated by having 3 facing mirror walls along each side of the triangular block, defines the park and the memorial. There are no separate statues, sculptures or plaques. The memorial lives within the infinite reflection of the white birch trees. We hope this park will be all things to all people: the children playing in the bounds of the mirrored forest, the weary commuter seeking a respite in the midst of the city and those visitors coming in memory of their loss.
THE IN-BETWEEN CENTER
The walls isolating the park from the city act as light wells and access to the Learning Center below. By bringing sunlight into the basement via skylights, the raw utilitarian space can be transformed into a welcoming and open area for exhibition, learning and performance. The walls also taper in width, housing stairs and ramps. The main entrance is located along Seventh Avenue, continuing the now lost storefront and bringing pedestrian activity to the street through the inclusion of a bookstore and café.
Along the sidewalks, three walls clad in slate create a forum for the voice of many. Through an ephemeral nod to the chain link fence at Greenwich and 11th Street, visitors are able to give life to the stone walls through messages and images written in chalk, creating an ever-changing mural which is refreshed with every rain.