Project's Summary

The New York City AIDS Memorial Park Campaign is a coalition of individuals and organizations dedicated to honoring and preserving the history of the AIDS crisis. As the epidemic enters its 30th year, their mission is to pay tribute to the over 100,000 men, women, and children who lost their lives to AIDS in New York City. Additionally, they aim to commemorate and celebrate the caregivers and activists who bravely responded to the crisis. The proposed site for the memorial park holds immense cultural significance, located at the gateway to the West Village neighborhood and in close proximity to the former St. Vincent's Hospital, which played a pivotal role during the AIDS epidemic.

The YMDS architectural studio's design for the New York AIDS Memorial Park is a powerful testament to the memories and stories deeply ingrained in the history of the AIDS crisis in New York. The centerpiece of their proposal is the symbolic "Forest of Memories," a triangular-shaped park that represents over 100,000 individual stories. This unique design aims to honor and recognize those who lost their lives to AIDS, while also commemorating the collective memories of loss and celebrating the heroic efforts made by individuals during the crisis.

The triangular park is positioned as if it has separated from its original ground, creating an architectural gesture of farewell and separation that resonates with the deaths of AIDS victims in New York. Beyond its symbolic significance, the park is also designed to be functional and inviting to the public. With gently sloped entrances, walkways, stone-paved hardscapes, lighting, and benches along a L-shaped wall, the park offers a serene space for contemplation and participation. It is designed to be accessible and user-friendly, without any fences or gates, serving as a hub for the local community 24/7.

Below ground level, water and light, symbolizing life and hope, are incorporated into the outdoor landscape and the Gallery of Light. This gallery serves as both an exhibition and education space, housing the frozen memories of those lost to AIDS. Visitors can descend to the gallery from street level through a ramp or a stair located at the edges of the triangular site. The below-grade spaces exude a sense of solemnity and calmness, with dark polished granite stones on two L-shaped walls, complemented by the integration of light and water.

This runner-up project in the New York AIDS Memorial Park Design Competition by YMDS architectural studio discreetly reminds us of the collective community efforts made, seen and unseen, in saving the lives of AIDS victims in the past, present, and future. It is not just a park created from nature but a park infused with the multi-layered experiences of humanity – hope, memories, dreams, love, and effort. Beyond being a local community park, it will serve as a cultural symbol and a constant reminder of memories and hope, life and death, past and future. The memorial park is a living tribute that requires ongoing cultivation and endeavor to sustain its significance and impact.

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