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AIDS Memorial Park Design Winner Chosen, But Developer Says No Thanks

By Andrea Swalec | January 30, 2012 2:42pm
The winning design for an AIDS memorial on the St. Vincent's Triangle features walls that are reflection on the inside of the park and slate on the outside.
The winning design for an AIDS memorial on the St. Vincent's Triangle features walls that are reflection on the inside of the park and slate on the outside.
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Guillaume Paturel

MANHATTAN — A competition to design an AIDS Memorial Park on the St. Vincent's Triangle concluded Monday morning when a star-studded panel of judges announced its selection.

But owner Rudin Management said it intends to proceed with its own design for the space rather than adopting a plan backed by the grassroots AIDS Memorial Park coalition.

The coalition's winning "Infinite Forest" design by Brooklyn firm Studio a+1 envisions the 15,000-square-foot park at Seventh and Greenwich avenues filled with white birch trees and surrounded by three tall, mirrored walls.

"An infinite forest, generated by having three facing mirror walls along each side of the triangular block, defines the park and the memorial," the group wrote in its entry for the contest.

"The memorial lives within the infinite reflection of the white birch trees."  

Rudin Management, which won City Planning Commission approval on Jan. 23 for its plans for the former St. Vincent's Hospital site, said it will work with the AIDS Memorial Park coalition, Community Board 2 and locals on plans for the park, but that its current design by landscape architect Rick Parisi will provide its basis. 

“Our neighborhood park design … allows for a commemoration of both those affected by the AIDS epidemic and of St. Vincent’s Hospital for its 160 years of service to the community and its steadfast commitment to care for those suffering from HIV/AIDS," Rudin CEO and vice chairman Bill Rudin said in a statement.

"We stand ready to continue our work with all stakeholders to determine how best to realize these memorial elements as part of the approved park design in a timely manner,” he said. 

Significant changes to the design for the triangle park might require a second review by city agencies, a spokeswoman for the Department of City Planning said. 

In a letter dated Jan. 20, CB2 asked City Planning Commission chair Amanda Burden to allow changes to the park's design to be made without affecting the timing of its construction.

Parisi's design for the park —which some locals called generic — calls for more than 600 seats, 31 trees and 4,861 square feet of plantings.

AIDS Memorial Park coalition co-founders Christopher Tepper and Paul Kelterborn, who DNAinfo profiled in September after they first introduced the idea for the park, called the winning design by Mateo Paiva, Lily Lim, John Thurtle, Insook Kim, and Esteban Erlich a jumping-off point for the proposed memorial. 

"The winning concept inspires us, and is the starting point for an iterative process to design a green oasis with an AIDS memorial for the community and New York City," they said in a joint statement. 

CB2 chair Brad Hoylman similarly called the selection of the winning design an initial step toward an AIDS memorial.

Pavia, a principal of Studio a+1, said in a statement that he was honored that his firm's design was selected.

"Through this design, we hope not only to honor the profound losses and ongoing struggles of those affected by AIDS, but also to reflect the changing and infinite ways in which AIDS affects us personally and as a society," he said. 

A panel of judges that included Whoopi Goldberg, designer Kenneth Cole and National September 11th Memorial and Museum designer Michael Arad, selected the design from 475 entries from 26 U.S. states and 32 countries, the group said.