A haunting design by two New York architects won a competition to create a centerpiece for the National AIDS Memorial Grove, a seven-acre garden in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park that is the only federally recognized AIDS memorial in the United States, contest officials announced. "Living Memorial," the winning entry by Janette Kim and Chloe Town, features a stand of black carbon fiber trees, a charred wood deck and a burned, bark-like walkway that in time will sprout greenery--elements borrowed from a fire-scarred forest to evoke a sense of loss and renewal. "While the design is at first frightening, it is also rich with the eventual triumph of life," said Ken Ruebush, who cochaired the international contest that drew 201 submissions from 24 countries. "In this way, it echoes the intentions of the grove's founders."
Conceived in 1989 by a group of San Francisco residents with lovers, friends, and relatives who had died of AIDS, the grove originally was designed as a "living memorial" that relied more on its natural setting than man-made features to send a message. But its board of directors started talking about installing a more imposing structure once Congress gave the grove national memorial status in 1996, a designation shared by American icons ranging from the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor to Mt. Rushmore, according to Ruebush. With public awareness about the global epidemic on the decline and few people outside the San Francisco Bay area aware of the Golden Gate Park memorial, some felt it was time "to turn up the volume," he said.
The directors have not yet committed, however, to fulfilling the vision of Town and Kim. First there is the matter of raising the $2 million needed to build it. Then, there has been continuing debate among the site's founders and volunteers over whether the memorial needs to be enhanced at all or is fine the way it is. (AP)