Last night on the 50th floor of the McGraw-Hill Building in midtown Manhattan, Christopher Tepper and Paul Kelterborn, two young urban planners and AIDS activists, came together with lead architect Mateo Paiva of Studio a+i, President of McGraw-Hill Construction Keith Fox, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer to unveil the final design for the upcoming New York City AIDS Memorial in Greenwich Village, the first of its kind in the city since the start of the AIDS crisis over 30 years ago.
Set to be complete in early 2015, the radical and long overdue memorial will sit in a brand new triangular public park at the intersection of West 12th Street and Greenwich Avenue as part of the redevelopment of St. Vincent's Hospital Campus, which housed New York's first and largest AIDS ward—just one block from the city's LGBT Community Center.
The entrance of the park will be crowned by Studio a+i's design, an 18-foot canopy consisting of three intricate triangular facets providing a sheltered area for people to gather and reflect. (The studio won the opportunity to design the memorial through a competition hosted by Architizer and Architectural Record.) Taking advantage of the memorial's visibility, a narrative of facts, quotes, and poetry reflecting the community's unparalleled support and response to the epidemic will be inscribed in a granite paving pattern of concentric rings on the surface.
A granite fountain glazed with a thin film of water will function as a focal point for meditation and remembrance. Unlike the rest of the park, the memorial will be open 24 hours a day and will be illuminated at night. The elegant, simple design highlights the architect's deep concern for generating serene spaces for contemplation.
Feeling disheartened by ignorance of the history of prejudice and negligence entwined in the AIDS crisis—especially in younger generations—Tepper and Kelterborn founded the AIDS memorial through grassroots community organizing to commemorate the more than 100,000 New York City men, women, and children who died from AIDS since the onset of the unprecedented epidemic, and to celebrate the heroic efforts of medical caregivers, as well as the bold and ingenious talents of activists. The new memorial hopes to reinvigorate awareness and action carried out by past activists in further generations through educational programming.
Since the location of the AIDS memorial serves as a de-facto memorial due to its proximity to St. Vincent's—and as a place of demonstration for revolutionary activist groups like ACT UP—Tepper and Kelterborn's efforts have been warmly received by the community. Having lived in New York during the height of the AIDS crisis, and seeing countless friends getting sick and dying from the disease, Scott Stringer described the need for the memorial not just to remember the dead, but to remind us that, "over 100,000 people died, 100,000 New Yorkers still live with the disease. The crisis is not over."
Stringer and the City of New York generously presented a $1 million donation dedicated to the future of the memorial. The AIDS Memorial will help our communities cope with a despairing past, as well as educate oncoming generations about the dangers of ignorance and prejudice to ensure that the crisis will not be repeated.
To learn more about the AIDS Memorial, or donate to its future maintenance, please visit nycaidsmemorial.org.
Left to right: Scott Stringer, Mateo Pavia, Paul Kelterborn, Christopher Tepper, and Keith Fox
Renderings courtesy of NYC AIDS Memorial and Studio a+i