Frederic Schwartz Architects

NATIONAL AIDS MEMORIAL

San Francisco, California
2005

National AIDS Memorial

Though the magnitude of the AIDS epidemic affects us all, no lives have been more irrevocably changed than those of the families and friends of the innocent loved ones who die every single day. Brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, lovers and fianc├ęs, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, grandparents and godparents, cousins, uncles and aunts, co-workers, friends and neighbors. My brother died in my arms and now children die worldwide every day. When will this end?

Our design remembers and inspires. For the Memorial, groupings of stainless steel strands are planted throughout the Grove. They will be both visible and invisible as visitors stroll the paths. The natural, serene setting of the Grove is complemented by this ethereal intervention, and continues to offer a meaningful place to heal, hope and reflect. Just as the Circles within the Grove symbolize hope, remembrance and eternity, the upward reaching strands of stainless steel convey a similar optimism.

Like the varied, diverse and arbitrary nature of the disease, the stainless steel groupings follow no set order, and are organic in the way they are dispersed and planted throughout the grove. Standing alone, in pairs or in a group, the strands represent the individuals, couples, families and communities affected by AIDS. The random placement will encourage moments of discovery and inquiry as a young person might ask: "Why is there just one?" "Why are these in a group?" The goal of these encounters is to provoke and stimulate thinking, questions and contemplation.

Each grouping or single strand uses brushed stainless steel rods, 2 inches in diameter. Stainless steel is the most living of modern materials and fitting to grace this poignant living memorial. It not only reflects the changing light of day, but also responds physically to warmth and cold, giving it a vital, living quality. There is a smooth, softness to the touch. The strength and flexibility of the stainless works in a metaphorical fashion and honors those who have fought, lived with and endured the disease. The heights of the strands will vary, especially when there are many placed together, and the flexibility of the stainless steel will allow them to gently sway in the wind.

By placing the strands in both the open, planted and wooded areas of the grove, this subtle intervention quietly augments the beauty and sanctity of the Grove. The multitude of strands scattered through the landscape reflects the pervasiveness of AIDS, while the material speaks to the strength, dignity and beauty of those taken and affected by the disease.

   
   

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