Why does New York City need an AIDS Memorial?
Isn’t there already an AIDS memorial in NYC?
Does the community support the Memorial?
What’s being built in place of St. Vincent’s?
How much of the new park will be dedicated to the AIDS Memorial?
How much will the memorial cost?
When will the park and memorial be completed?
Who will maintain the park after it is built?
How will the memorial be used?
What can I do to help?
Over 30 years into the fight against AIDS, there is no highly visible public memorial recognizing those we lost and the extraordinarily heroic effort of caregivers and activists who helped change the trajectory of the epidemic. The history of AIDS in New York City is all but invisible – the loss and devastation, the government indifference, the community’s unprecedented response. This memorial is intended both to honor the past and – as the AIDS crisis is far from over – energize and inspire current and future generations of activists, caregivers and people living with HIV.
Manhattan’s St. Vincent’s Hospital went bankrupt in April 2010 and is being converted into a luxury residential complex. As part of this major redevelopment, a new public park is being designed and constructed on a triangle of land adjacent to the former hospital, creating a special opportunity for an AIDS memorial at a meaningful location, an idea supported by HIV/AIDS and allied organizations all over the city.
The new park is adjacent to the former St. Vincent’s Hospital, which housed the City’s largest AIDS ward and figures prominently in The Normal Heart, Angels in America, As Is and other important pieces of literature and art that tell the story of the plague years in New York. The park site is also less than a block from the LGBT Community Center, where ACT-UP and other AIDS advocacy/support groups first organized, and within blocks of the first headquarters of GMHC and the office of a doctor on W. 12th Street that Lambda Legal successfully prevented from being evicted for treating early AIDS patients. Furthermore, the site is highly visible, accessible and surrounded by amenities for visitors.
There are several small private markers and tributes throughout the City and in 2008 a memorial bench was dedicated in Hudson River Park at Bank Street by the AIDS Monument Committee. However, New York City still has no significant, highly visible public place to mark the past, present and future of an epidemic that for a time defined the city, still the U.S. epicenter of the AIDS pandemic.
Yes. As a part of the launch of the project, we secured the support of over 30 diverse AIDS and allied organizations, local neighborhood and historic preservation groups, and surrounding businesses. Both the designation of the memorial area in the new park and the memorial design concept were reviewed and approved by the local community board (Manhattan Community Board 2).
Approximately 450 condominium units, a new 24-hour emergency care center in the O’Toole Building, and a new 16,000 sq. ft. public open space, part of which will be the AIDS memorial.
The AIDS Memorial will be the primary feature of the new park, located on a 1,600 sq. ft. parcel at the park’s most intimate corner, the intersection of West 12th Street and Greenwich Avenue. The memorial canopy, at approximately 18 feet high, will provide a strong visual presence as the symbolic gateway to the park and be lit at night. Unlike the rest of the park, the AIDS Memorial will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The current estimate of the memorial construction cost, based on schematic designs, is approximately $5 million. We are also raising funds for an operating and maintenance reserve to ensure the memorial stays beautiful forever and to fund public programming associated with the memorial in furtherance of our mission to connect current and future generations with the ongoing history of the AIDS epidemic. We are seeking funds from both public and private sources.
The new park construction will begin in fall 2014 and last until late 2015. It is our intention to construct the memorial simultaneously with the park so that it can be dedicated on World AIDS Day 2015.
After construction of the park is complete, Rudin Management will begin the public process required to map the site as parkland and turn over its jurisdiction to the New York City Parks Department. The condo association for the new residential development is responsible for funding the maintenance of the park in perpetuity. New York City AIDS Memorial will have a separate agreement with the condo association and the Parks Department to fund any additional maintenance required for the memorial.
When designing the new memorial, the architects created a destination for people to gather to reflect and learn. The memorial design, combined with the adjacent park’s open plaza, creates a destination and venue for events, like a World AIDS Day vigil or a smaller gathering to remember a lost loved one. The memorial’s narrative paving, that will share a patchwork of facts and memories about the crisis, will engage visitors and provide an opportunity for further learning. Public programming, such as traditional tours, virtual interaction on the memorial’s website, and classes and partnerships with other organizations, will make the memorial a gateway for education about the AIDS epidemic in New York City and beyond.
We are relying on the public to help us build the memorial, seeking donations of all sizes to make this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity a reality. Please donate online at nycaidsmemorial.org. Also consider hosting a house party to raise donations for the AIDS Memorial. For information about planning or hosting an event, please contact Doug Wingo at (212) 244-4880 or firstname.lastname@example.org.