amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

AIDS Memorial Park Takes Shape

January 25—Although New York City has lost more people to AIDS than any city in the country, there is no significant memorial to honor all who have who died or to celebrate the efforts of the many who have dedicated themselves to the fight against HIV. But a small piece of land in New York’s West Village neighborhood may be just the place to recognize the city’s 100,000 AIDS deaths.

AIDS Memorial Park

In April 2010, St. Vincent’s Hospital went bankrupt and was forced to close. The now shuttered hospital may be the single most iconic site associated with AIDS; it figured prominently in Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart and Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, among other HIV-related works. Recently purchased by a real estate development company, most of the structures at St. Vincent’s, which housed New York City’s first AIDS ward, are scheduled for demolition or major alterations. But an adjacent triangle-shaped parcel of land is set to become a public space, and a local group called AIDS Memorial Park is proposing it be used as a memorial.

Founded in 2011, AIDS Memorial Park is “a coalition of individuals and organizations dedicated to the recognition and preservation of the ongoing history of the AIDS crisis.” In conjunction with Architizer and Architectural Record, the group has launched a design competition for the park, chaired by Michael Arad, designer of the National September 11 Memorial.

Designers from around the world have sent in more than 600 submissions. Among the judges of the competition are amfAR Chairman of the Board Kenneth Cole and Trustee Regan Hofmann. They are helping decide which of the designs would best function as both “a useable park for the surrounding park-starved neighborhood and a significant memorial to the AIDS crisis.” The winners will be announced on February 1.