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NYC AIDS Memorial
New York

This Memorial design employs the symbol of the arch to frame the view of the former St. Vincent’s hospital, an epicenter of the early AIDS crisis. The arch is at once a symbol for absence, loss, and emptiness, as well as a transcendent symbol of triumph over ignorance and despair. The arch is a reminder of the enormity of what has been lost, and a symbol of a society that is progressively moving beyond social stigma, ignorance, and intolerance; toward acceptance and understanding.

Rising 35' above the park level, the arch is comprised of a thin wedge shaped wing, which houses a meditation room on the park level floor, with mechanical equipment on the upper floors; a main wing with a meditation room on the park level, as well as exhibition spaces, and a digital interactive learning center on the second and third floors. On top of the arch a roof garden, which has an open patio space with cantilevered wood benches surrounded by a medicinal garden, provides a green oasis cradled above the city streets. The interior side of the wedge shaped wing is a continuous water wall, which cascades into a central water basin below the arch at the park level. The outer walls and roof of the arch are enveloped with a rich tapestry of medicinal plants that have been instrumental in the fight to combat AIDS.

A 6' wide glass walkway spans the park between West 12th Street and Greenwich Avenue, and provides direct access from the sidewalk level to the 2nd floor of the monument.

The surrounding park is depressed 10' below the sidewalk, which shelters the memorial park from the omnipresent sound of traffic noise. Enveloping the park is a raised concrete water basin, which functions both as a guardrail and as a support system for the cantilevered wood benches facing the sidewalks.

The park is divided into five vertical bands, two of which are lawn panels, while three are comprised of alternating horizontal bands of granite paving stones and gravel, with smaller cobblestone paths. A grid of 40 Ginkgo trees, which are symbols of tenacity and survival, create a sheltered green understory of silky light.

Along the interior walls of the park, interchangeable 7'x10' imprinted zinc metal panels document the myriad personal stories of the AIDS epidemic. These panels would be sponsored by individual National AIDS Organizations, and could be comprised of images, stories, and poems – a mosaic of words and images that weave together a rich narrative through time.

The park is designed to be a gathering place that fosters an ongoing dialogue about the collective experience of the AIDS epidemic, a place where celebration and mourning can coexist, a place where we are free to be ourselves.