MANHATTAN — A group pushing for the creation of the city's first major memorial to the AIDS epidemic at the site of the former St. Vincent's Hospital launched a design competition on Tuesday.
Submission for a park, memorial and learning center in honor of AIDS victims and their caregivers on the St. Vincent's Triangle will be evaluated by a jury that includes architect Richard Meier, National September 11 Memorial designer Michael Arad and Robert Hammond, co-founder of Friends of the High Line, the contest's backers said in a statement Tuesday.
Calling for the AIDS Memorial Park in the 15,000-square-foot park on Seventh Avenue between Greenwich Avenue and West 12th Street challenges plans by the land's owner, Rudin Management. Rudin-backed landscape architect Rick Parisi presented a design for the park in September that would leave room for a memorial element, perhaps regarding AIDS or St. Vincent's Hospital.
"We believe that our design process will engage the best architects, and landscape and urban designers, to propose inspirational, imaginative and thoughtful alternative solutions for the park and underground space,” Keith Fox, chairman of the group's executive committee, said in the statement.
AIDS Memorial Park backer Christopher Tepper, 30, told DNAinfo in September that a design competition for the park would give residents "more than a plan they could say 'yes' or 'no' to."
Community Board 2 backed the memorial plan in a nearly unanimous resolution on Nov. 17, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer threw his support behind a memorial element to the park on Nov. 25.
But Rudin chief operating officer John Gilbert said following the CB2 vote, "The design as it stands will stay."
Stringer's announcement on Nov. 25 noted that Rudin has agreed to eliminate gas tanks that formerly served the hospital but take up space on the western end of the park.
Arad said the development of the St. Vincent's site, which is currently under review by the Department of City Planning, provides an opportunity for new, meaningful public space.
"My fellow jurors and I are looking forward to reviewing proposals that imagine both a neighborhood park that will serve the surrounding community, and a significant memorial that can serve as a symbolic touchstone as we commemorate 30 years of the AIDS epidemic,” Arad said in the statement.
A winner will be announced on Feb. 1, 2012. The first place winner will receive $5,000 and a runner-up will receive $2,000. Memorial planners project a completion date of Dec. 1, 2014, which is World AIDS Day.