In conjunction with Architizer and Architectural Record, AIDS Memorial Park launched a design competition, chaired by Michael Arad the designer of the the National September 11 Memorial, to generate ideas for the memorial park design. Yin Mau Ooi's competition entry was the runner up of 475 teams from around the world who submitted designs to create a new neighborhood park and meaningful memorial.
Mau, who was born and raised in Malaysia, graduated from University of South Australia School of Architecture and is currently working at Scott Tallon Walker Architects.
A number of entries featured submerged exhibition spaces and sunken courtyards, but few were as simple and serene as Ooi Yin Mau’s “forest.” A flight of stairs descends from the park’s southeast corner, landing at the foot of a shallow pool hugging against the east wall. A second pool runs along the northern edge of the site, narrowing at it terminates at the northwest corner. The two pools frame a small memorial space that sits under the robust forest at ground level.
The architect graciously accepted the jury’s commendation, saying: ”It is a great honor for me to be a runner-up in this competition. I was initially shocked by the scale of AIDS crisis in New York, in which over 100,000 lives were taken away in three decades. My design is mainly about memories and hope; these experiences are universal. It is part of our life, and our driving force to move forward. I hope my design will touch the heart of many. I feel extremely proud to be part of this competition, and I am grateful to the organizer and all involved.”