The scars left from the devastation of AIDS on New York City are not visible. No buildings were downed from the attack of AIDS. Instead there are thousands of small holes where people’s lives were cut short. In fact there are over a hundred thousand of them throughout the city of New York. Also there are the millions of holes in the hearts and memories of those that survived them, the family members, friends, neighbors, and communities, those that nursed them, and the courageous activists who refused to allow the suffering and loss to be swept under a rug, who demanded attention, gave support and initiated action.
This memorial design works on three levels:
A below ground flexible memorial center can work as a gallery, a theater, an auditorium for events with appropriate support services and spaces. The materials would be warm, simple, the spaces flexible. The walls are cement, plaster and epoxy, the floors 1” thick industrial cork planks.
The triangle carved from Seventh Avenue, Greenwich Avenue and 12th Street is a frenetic corner of the West Village. The intention of this street level garden is to provide a sheltered connection to nature, set apart from the surrounding chaos of the city, to provide the public with a place for reflection, serenity, meditation, and replenishment. Arched entrances are at each of the three corners. Continual stone seating will run along Greenwich Avenue length of the park, facing into the green areas support contemplation and tranquility. We have in mind the very dense limestone of Puglia, Italy, which looks and feels like petrified cream. Wide limestone slab paths run broadly to each entrance. The third entrance at 12th Street and 7th Avenue accesses to the memorial center below via a ramp and bisects the gardens. For plant material we are suggesting something subtle, natural, tranquil with textures, colors and surfaces that change seasonally and move gently in the wind. Perhaps even a field with the kind of boulders that we see protruding up through the island of Manhattan. Stone paths that cut through the large planted areas welcome strolling.
Above the garden is the actual memorial. It is a swooping brushed stainless trellis that swells upwards to five stories at the center and reaches out over much of the park. During the daytime the trellis dapples the light, isolates the park visually from the neighboring buildings, allows the visitor introspection with its embrace. At night the park is gently illuminated and will offer a warm spiritual presence to the evening.
Across the length of the vaulted main path hang 100,000 thin bronze tubes of various lengths Each tube finishes in a black rubber ball that acts as a clapper when the wind allows the tubes to sway into each, causing a range of muffled chimes and visually presenting to the visitors of the park what the quantity 100,000 looks like. The memorial will be a landmark in the city, a forceful image of remembrance, celebration and reflection.