News: AIDS Memorial Park Competition, New York, unveiling winning design

The AIDS Memorial Park, located in New York, unveiled design selection, as The Architectural Record reports. The winner is a Brooklyn-based firm, Studio a+i with a design, titled Infinite Forest, consisting of a grove of twenty white birch trees that are reflected by 12-foot-long mirrors.

This competition was hosted by Architectural Record, Architizer, and The AIDS Memorial Park. Participants were invited to design a park on an unused triangular lot in Manhattan's West Village neighborhood.

Studio a+i was inspired by two important element, first the disease that should not be considered as "either a war or a disease conquered as", the agence goes on, "there are no definite dates or victims." Second: a fence.
AIDS Memorial Park design proposal, New York, © Studio a+i

The site, which was primarily used for a loading dock as well as for storage of liquid oxygen tanks, has 17,000 square feet on the street level and 10,000 square feet below-grade.
AIDS Memorial Park Design Proposal, © Studio a+i

According to the Architectural Record, Studio a+i's proposal consists of an above-ground park with a 12-foot walls on all three sides with entrances at each corner. A park, better: an infinite forest with three facing mirrored walls along each side of the triangular land.
AIDS Memorial Park Design Proposal, New York, © Studio a+i

This park will not have separate statues, sculptures or plaques, Studio a+i says. According to the agency, this park will be accessible to all: children, communter and visitors.
AIDS Memorial Park Design Proposal, New York, © Studio a+i

Three walls define entrances to the park, as the diagrams show. These walls will be reinforced with mirrored walls inside the park. Materials such as highly-polished stainless steel can be used to obtain these mirrored walls. The aim of the choice for mirrored walls is to generate an appearance of boundless space inside the park, Studio a+i adds.
AIDS Memorial Park Design Proposal, New York, © Studio a+i

These walls will function as generator of peaceful place for the users as they will isolate the park from the city. They will also act as light wells and access to the Learning Center. As the agency says, "by bringing sunlight into the basement via skylights, the raw utilitarian space can be transformed into a welcoming and open area for exhibition, learning and performance."
AIDS Memorial Park Design Proposal, New York, © Studio a+i

The walls taper in width to host stairs and ramps. Twenty white birch trees will be planted in the park. It will also include benches.
Exterior walls will be clad in chalkboard slates along sidewalks of Seventh Avenue, Greenwich Avenue, and West 12th Streets. These chalkboard slates were inspired by a fence as mentioned above, precisely a fence around a lot across the street, which was adorned with makeshift memorials after September 11, and which today has rows of similarly decorated tiles, Architectural Record reports. "People want a place to express their loss, their emotions, and feelings," the agency says.
AIDS Memorial Park Design Proposal, New York, Studio a+i

Studio a+i's proposal is modest, simple in a positive way. It is very difficult to design such a place which treats diseases such as AIDS without avoiding pathos. Exterior gathering spaces are important for any disease as a help for therapy or for living with the illness. This is the goal of Studio a+i with this Infinite Forest, that is, designing an environment calibrated to be a comfort to the patients as well as the visitors.

Building fact
Project: AIDS Memorial Park Competition
Architects: Studio a+i
Project team: Mateo Paiva, Lily Lm, John Thurtle, Insook Kim, Esteban Erlich
Location: Greenwich Village, New York City
Rendering: Guillaume paturel, by-encore
Date of Competition: January, 2012 (1st Prize)

Who are they?
Studio a+i was created by Lily Lim and Mateo Paiva in New York in 2004. Both are licensed Architects and have worked for Rafael Viñoly Architects in New York for number of years as Project Managers for large scale institutional and commercial projects all over the United States as well as in Asia and Europe.
Since its inception, Studio a+i has been involved in projects from residential buildings to commercial retail and office spaces in New York, Argentina, Uruguay and Singapore.
At Studio a+i, every project is a set of unique design challenges that are met with simple are elegant solutions.

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