‘Infinite Forest’ Chosen as Winning Design for NYC AIDS Memorial Park


Organizers for the AIDS Memorial Park to be built in NYC's West Village opposite the now-shuttered St. Vincent's Hospital on 7th Avenue at Greenwich have chosen "Infinite Forest" by studio a+i: Mateo Paiva, Lily Lim, John Thurtle, Insook Kim, Esteban Erlich, as the winner in a design competition.

StvincentsparkThe competition was launched in November. Joining Michael Arad, the designer of the poignant and provocative 9/11 memorial in the footprint of the former World Trade Center, on the design jury were, among others, the architects Richard Meier and Elizabeth Diller; the landscape architect Ken Smith; the High Line’s co-founder and executive director, Robert Hammond; the choreographer Bill T. Jones; and the novelist and journalist Kurt Andersen.

The description of the winning entry:

An infinite forest, generated by having 3 facing mirror walls along each side of the triangular block, defines the park and the memorial. There are no separate statues, sculptures or plaques. The memorial lives within the infinite reflection of the white birch trees. We hope this park will be all things to all people: the children playing in the bounds of the mirrored forest, the weary commuter seeking a respite in the midst of the city and those visitors coming in memory of their loss.

The walls isolating the park from the city act as light wells and access to the Learning Center below. 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. The walls also taper in width, housing stairs and ramps. The main entrance is located along Seventh Avenue, continuing the now lost storefront and bringing pedestrian activity to the street through the inclusion of a bookstore and café.

Along the sidewalks, three walls clad in slate create a forum for the voice of many. Through an ephemeral nod to the chain link fence at Greenwich and 11th Street, visitors are able to give life to the stone walls through messages and images written in chalk, creating an ever-changing mural which is refreshed with every rain.

Much more about the winning entry HERE. The runners-up HERE. And honorable mentions HERE.


  1. Bakeley says

    It looks very pretty on paper, but I wonder how those mirrors will fare in dirty, vandalism-plagued Manhattan, and whether those trees will live full lives. It has the potential of looking very dilapidated quickly. At least it promises a bookstore, though of course, that’s also pretty idealistic given today’s climate for bookstores. The ones we already have can’t stay open. Overall, as a NYer, I’d say this is a lovely concept that will not fare well as an enduring tribute.

  2. CKNJ says

    I am happy to see this tribute coming to the drab NYC streets… there are enough people who give a damn about the cause and memorial concept that it will likely be well cared for, I think!

    Hope it does indeed deliver the calm introspection it offers, that would be most welcome… I also like the chalk wall tribute idea… sure there will be morons that write stuff on there that does not belong, but being able to write something personal and memorable will mean something to people that truly understand the tribute of the memorial park.

    Hope it manages to get built soon!

  3. Bingo says

    “the poignant and provocative 9/11 memorial”

    Not what I experienced. A wasteland. Tourists leaning on the stone markers that bear the names of the dead, as if they were park benches and not a memorial at all. Grandiose.

    And do streams of water plummeting into bottomless space evoke anything but the terror of jumping to one’s death?

    A horror.

  4. QJ201 says

    I literally worked around the corner from this spot for 4 years. What a STUPID design. A WALLED park. They will probably lock it up at night, because if they don’t, all sorts of nonsense will go on in there.

    Let’s see what happens. The “winning designs” in these competitions never match what eventually gets built.

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