Two months ago, we proudly announced the launch of the AIDS Memorial Park Design Competition, calling for architects and designers from around the world to re-imagine a 17,000 square-foot plot of land sitting across from the epicenter of New York City's AIDS epidemic, St. Vincent's Hospital. After the closure of St. Vincent's in 2010, plans were announced for the conversion of the triangular plot into an open public space. The AIDS Memorial Park Coalition gathered its founding members shortly thereafter, with the dream of seeing Greenwich Village receive a new neighborhood park and a memorial to commemorate the thousands of New Yorkers who faced the epidemic with unprecedented courage. What began as grassroots campaigning quickly gained momentum, and within a few months, an impressive roster of jurors and coalition members joined the initiative, from architects like Richard Meier and Michael Arad to entertainment leaders and West Village locals Julianne Moore and Susan Sarandon.
After receiving 475 entries from over 26 U.S. states and 32 countries, the jury deliberated long and hard, and the results are finally in. As proud media co-sponsors alongside Architectural Record, Architizer is happy to announce the winning design for the AIDS Memorial Park Design Competition.
First place was awarded to Brooklyn-based studio a+i for their design proposal “Infinite Forest.” Designed by Mateo Paiva, Lily Lim, John Thurtle, Insook Kim, and Esteban Erlich, with a rendering by Guillaume Paturel, “Infinite Forest” memorializes the AIDS epidemic by emphasizing “the changing and varied ways through which AIDS affects us personally and as a society.” studio a+i turned away from obvious symbolism and chose to create a solemn space with a sense of respect and remembrance, lining 3 inward-facing mirrors along each side of the triangular block, loosely surrounding a forest of slender white birch trees. With its infinite reflection of trees, the park is to adopt many meanings, functioning both as an oasis for the weary commuter and a commemorative space for visitors to pay respect to the over 100,000 New Yorkers lost to the epidemic. On the exterior, three slate walls invite visitors and passersby to leave messages in chalk, creating a “forum for the voice of many.”
Jury Chair and designer of the National September 11 Memorial Michael Arad hailed the proposal for its creation of “a space for reflection, awareness and recognition, while acknowledging the history of the disease,” also reiterating the importance of the winning design's ability to “deliver a public space that serves both as a neighborhood park and an AIDS memorial of significance.” Juror Ken Smith, principal architect at landscape design firm WORKSHOP, praised how the design could speak to larger issues through its use of mirrored reflections and saw the project as a “clear, coherent, beautiful starting point, with a capacity to be developed and respond to our commitment to take this project from vision to implementation.”
[Click image for larger view]
Humbled by the jury's selection, studio a+i principal and co-founder Mateo Paiva expressed gratitude to the panel of judges on behalf of the entire winning team, also remarking that the team hoped their design would not only commemorate the losses and struggles of those affected by AIDS but also "reflect the changing and infinite ways in which AIDS affects us personally and as a society." The winning team has every reason to be excited about the selection: on January 23, plans for park redevelopment received unanimous approval by the New York City Planning Commission, with strong support from the chair of the commission. City Council will reconvene for a vote on the redevelopment of the site in late February or early March.
In addition to choosing a winning design, the competition jury also selected three runners-up from the pool of 475 submissions, commending the following designs in alphabetical order:
"Forest of Memories" by Malaysia' Ooi Yin Mau:
Also a runner-up, "Not Yet" by Manhattan-based Rodrigo Zamora and Mike Robitz:
Also a runner-up, "The Village Red" by Jonathan Kurtz, Christopher Diehl, Katherine Ritzman, Brant Miler, Mykie Hrusovski, and David Berlekamp from Cleveland, Ohio:
The jury also selected 12 honorable mentions, which will soon be announced. Congratulations to all of the winners, and thank you to all who participated, shared ideas, believed in a vision, and worked to make this incredible competition happen. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of it all. For more information, visit the AIDS Memorial Park website.