New York we love you, but you are bringing us down. Back in January we were really, really happy with the winning design for the New York City AIDS Memorial set to go in the Triangle Park across from St. Vincent's. Brooklyn studio a+i's gorgeous "Infinite Forest" design struck us as perfect in the way it used mirrors, trees and slate to allow for quiet contemplation in a dense, heavily trafficked area. But it was not to be.
As Daily Intelligencer notes today, "Negotiations with the developer Rudin Management and the community board shrank the site down to a 1,600-square-foot arrowhead at the intersection of West 12th Street and Greenwich Avenue, so the architects went back to their laptops." And the new design is pretty much the opposite of what came before. *shakes fist at sky* Developers!
Where once there was going to be a lovely grove walled in by mirrors, now there is... a big arbor with a big circle in it. Daily Intel tries to make the best of the new design arguing that it is
far softer, more empathic and understated than the competition entry. It didn’t feel right, somehow, to memorialize illness with three hard, unyielding surfaces that would have maximized glare. It is also much more modest, a tiny arbor parting tributaries of traffic. Maybe that’s appropriate. AIDS is a global epidemic, its victims members of varied but overlapping communities, and its treatment triggered political battles of appalling intensity. Yet at the same time, each victim and each grouping of friends and family members has had to wage a separate battle with the disease, and this quietly abstract memorial—a life-filled roof, mottled light, a watery eye—captures something crucial about the intersection of public space and private reflection.
But we're not feeling it. Where the competition entry allowed for both quiet personal thought and public memorializing (the street-side of the mirrors was to be slate where people could write down names and memories of those they lost) this new design looks like... something that would fit in on the High Line. And while there is nothing wrong with the High Line, it isn't a memorial. That triangle is a busy intersection and without anything to block the traffic noises, the space will simply become another triangle green space in the city, just one that happens to be the New York City AIDS Memorial.
Anyway, looks like we're more likely to get this design than the earlier one—CB2 approved it last night.