Olson Kundig was awarded an honorable mention in the NYC AIDS Memorial Park Competition, which drew 475 entries from 26 states and 32 countries. The competition called for designs that function simultaneously as a useable park for the surrounding park-starved neighborhood and a significant memorial to the AIDS Crisis.
In our design, a large open green hill designed for relaxation and play surrounds a memorial arch and entrance to the subterranean museum. The edges of the hill are populated with native and historical plantings intended to encourage an annual return of birds, butterflies and bees—recurring evidence of the cycles of life. Inside the arch, the Act Up slogan “Silence = Death” is carved into the floor as a memorial skylight—a perpetual reminder for visitors to “Act up. Act out. Fight back.”—against atrocity, genocide, violence, and cruelty whenever it occurs.
The memorial arch is also the entrance to a subterranean museum which houses an exhibition on the history of the AIDS crisis in New York City. Once a devastated epicenter of the AIDS pandemic, the memorial now unites nature, art, people, activism and personal stories, carrying forward the beauty of each individual, captured in perpetual light.
The jury included Michael Arad, designer of the National September 11 Memorial; Barry Bergdoll, chief curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art; Kenneth Cole, fashion designer and chairman of amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research; the actress and talk-show host Whoopi Goldberg; Elizabeth Diller, founding partner at Diller Scofidio + Renfro; Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem; landscape architect Ken Smith; Suzanne Stephens, deputy editor of Architectural Record; and choreographer Bill T. Jones.
The winning designs are currently on display as part of the exhibit, “A Plague Remembered: The AIDS Memorial Park Competition.” The exhibit runs until April 11, 2012 at the Center for Architecture in New York City. See more information here.
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