Ever since I submitted a design board for the WTC Memorial competition, I’ve been (happily, nerdily) following memorial and public space design competitions and this one has some really unique and innovate entries and a nice, simple well-designed winner in the “Infinite Forest” entry by studio a + i, pictured here. The space that will house the memorial park is a right triangle shaped wedge in the West Village across from St. Vincent’s hospital, where many of the first people to be diagnosed with the “gay cancer” spent their last days, so it’s a fitting environment. Until now, the triangle has been the home of an ugly HVAC venting structure for St. Vincent’s with minimal landscaping and no public use, so this is a great way to change my old neighborhood a bit, provide accessible public space and offer a small memorial to the impact of HIV on NYC, at once. Among the runners-up and honorably mentioned entries, there are some great uses of video in spots, notably (IMO) the entry called “Sex, Shame and Videotape,” mid-page here and in the runner-up titled “Not Yet Open, Not Yet Closed,” bottom of page, here.
Personally, I like the mirrors and the way they will multiply the number of people you see in the space at any given time. The first time I realized how hard this disease hit my community was while I was visiting a primarily GLBT resort area on Fire Island, about two hours away from the city. It was the summer of 1992 and I was in my mid 20′s and I remember looking around at this beach-side bar and patio, and out on the beach, and there were guys from my age group up to about age 40, then the rest of the guys were all in their 60′s and 70′s. It’s hard to imagine this now, when we have anti-retroviral drug therapies and therefore longer lifetimes of people with HIV, but the entire generation of men in their mid-late 30′s, 40′s and 50′s was just gone, and because the place where I was had such a high concentration of GLBT people, all you had to do was look around and you noticed this terrible loss of life.
I appreciate that this memorial’s design, its mirrors, and how they will multiply its visitors will–at least conceptually–put these guys back in the West Village, via reflection.
UPDATE: Well, similar to what happened for the WTC architectural re-design that Daniel Liebeskind submitted for the building areas, not the memorial, the winning design is being ignored by the developers for a boring strandard park space. Developers truly are the biggest assholes on the planet: http://www.dnainfo.com/20120130/greenwich-village-soho/aids-memorial-park-design-winner-chosen-but-rudin-says-no-thanks