Last night, the Parks, Recreation & Open Space Committee of Community Board 2 held the first public discussion of the design for the AIDS memorial in the new St. Vincent’s Triangle Park in the West Village. This comes just as the rezoning plan which would allow its development received its final approvals. The park, which will also serve as a much-needed community open space, will be located on a triangular lot between West 12th Street, Greenwich Avenue and Seventh Avenue South. The site is part of Rudin Development’s re-development of the St. Vincent’s Hospital complex.
The proposed AIDS memorial will be placed at the West 12th Street and Greenwich Avenue corner, and will occupy 1,600 square feet of the park. Leading the effort to get this memorial closer to a reality is AIDS Memorial Park, “a coalition of individuals and organizations dedicated to the recognition and preservation of the ongoing history of the AIDS crisis.” GVSHP supports the inclusion of the memorial in the proposed park design, and is happy to see that the original plan’s design has been revised to include space to honor and recognize the more than 100,000 New Yorkers who lost their lives to AIDS. The memorial’s location here is appropriate given the former St. Vincent’s critical role during the AIDS crisis; the LGBT Center, just a block north, also played a key role in response to the AIDS crisis as the site of the founding of Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) and the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT-UP).
You may be familiar with the design competition that AIDS Memorial Park held at the end of last year. Of nearly 500 submissions, Brooklyn-based Studio a+i was awarded the winning concept in January 2012. There’s been some confusion over how this design will be realized in the final park design, since it takes up the entire lot. In actuality, the winning team will be designing a new memorial to fit within the allotted 1,600 square-foot corner site.
Last night’s meeting was a chance for Studio a+i, AIDS Memorial Park, and representatives of the Parks Department to listen to community input on what they’d like to see for the memorial. One neighborhood resident felt that text should be incorporated into the memorial so that people 100 years from now would understand the devastating effects of the AIDS crisis. Another member felt it would be nice to be able to leave messages in memory of lost loved ones. A few residents brought up Abingdon Square Park, also in the Village, and the Imagine mosaic in Central Park’s Strawberry Fields as examples of successful memorial designs. A local artist suggested having a rotating art exhibit commemorating the event, similar to what’s being done in parks such as Madison Square. Some concern was raised over blocking the northwestern corner entrance to the park, though plans have already been approved for the memorial to be located in that corner.
From here, the design team will create a proposal for the memorial. The community will have another chance at the end of May (CB2 Parks meeting, date TBD) to weigh in on the design. If you’re interested in seeing how the design comes together, we encourage you to attend the meeting. Community Board 2’s May calendar should be available soon on their website so keep a look out and perhaps we’ll see you there!