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NYC AIDS Memorial Gets a Facelift

New design elements are coming to the long-awaited New York City memorial to those lost in the HIV/AIDS crisis.

Originally, the memorial—designed by Brooklyn architectural firm Studio a+i—featured an “infinite forest” theme, which included a triangular fenced-in birch tree grove reflected in external mirrors. Now, the design is a bit more subdued but pointed: it's a 1,600-square-foot arrowhead occupying the triangle made by the intersections of Seventh Avenue, Greenwich Avenue and West 12 Street. It’s across the street from St. Vincent's Hospital, the so-called “ground zero” of AIDS, which is where many of the first AIDS patients were diagnosed with the deadly virus.

In their presentation to Community Board 2 back in July, the design team issued the following statement: “The memorial is composed of three inter-connected elements that are inspired by the shelter provided from a dense grove of trees, and the visual impact created when trees within that canopy are lost. The elements include a planted canopy creating a sheltered area that defines the memorial space, a reflective water feature providing a focal point for meditation, and a narrative surface design of concentric rings creating an opportunity for sharing and learning.”

Community Board 2 approved the redesign and gave the go-ahead to AIDS Memorial Park, the organization spearheading the project. Now the memorial must be greenlighted by the Department of City Planning and the Landmarks Preservation Commission. If all goes well, the memorial could be unveiled in late 2014.

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