The National AIDS Memorial Grove

The National AIDS Memorial Grove, located in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, is a dedicated space in the national landscape where millions of Americans touched directly or indirectly by AIDS can gather to heal, hope, and remember. For all the promising prospects on the horizon, AIDS continues to invade our lives, violate our past, and rob us of our comfortable assumptions about the future. The sacred ground of this living memorial honors all who have confronted this tragic pandemic both those who have died and those who have shared their struggle, kept the vigils, and supported each other during the final hours.

The National AIDS Memorial Grove signifies that the global tragedy of AIDS will never be forgotten.

The National AIDS Memorial Grove is a living tribute to all whose lives have been touched by AIDS. Our mission is to provide a healing sanctuary, to increase awareness of this national treasure, and to promote learning and understanding of the human tragedy of the AIDS pandemic.

About the Grove
In late 1988, a small group of San Francisco residents representing a devastated community were looking for a positive way to express their collective grief. They envisioned a serene, natural setting suitable for memorial services or individual mourning and remembrance. From this initial concept, a team of architects, landscapers, designers, and lay people volunteered countless hours to create a living tribute to those lost to the disease.

The Grove and the endowment that helps to ensure its ongoing care and maintenance have been created primarily through private funding. Although the names in the Circle of Friends and other dedications offer personal remembrances, the Grove as a whole honors the memory of all who have shared in the struggle against AIDS.

In 1996, a milestone was reached when Congress and the President of the United States approved the "National AIDS Memorial Grove Act", which officially designates the historic deLaveaga Dell in Golden Gate Park, as the nation's first AIDS memorial. True to its origins, the Grove is a dedicated public landscape where anyone who has been touched by AIDS can find comfort, grieve openly without being stigmatized, and experience feelings of hope that nature can inspire.

Design Competition for National AIDS Memorial

The National AIDS Memorial Grove, located on seven-acres in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, will likely get a new addition soon. Two hundred architects, designers, artists, landscape architects and students participated in a competition to develop a design that would give visitors to the site a deeper understanding of the 20 million lives lost to AIDS in the past 25 years. Entries came from 21 states and 24 countries. Five finalists were chosen and the winning design will be announced in April. If funding can be acquired, the winning team will then get to see its ideas come to life.

Among the finalists is Melissa Cate Christ, a landscape architect based in Toronto. She proposed building a 20-foot-high pile of small rocks that visitors could take and move to make small memorials throughout the grove. The pile would eventually change and get smaller over the years until eventually, just a ring of stones would remain where the pyramid used to be.

Other finalists' designs include a tangle of red, interconnected tubes, and a swarm of hummingbirds, developed by Raveevarn Cholsombatchi, Jacob Atherton, Michael Eggers and Andrew Shanken, all from the Bay area; a wire-mesh wall that would serve as a framework for mementos, designed by Andrew Thurlow and Maia Small of Rhode Island; a pocket of black fiberglass poles and a sidewalk of charred wood, designed by Janette Kim and Chloe Town of New York; and an installation of 24 polished, stainless steel spheres, each engraved with a number to indicate the lives lost each year to the disease, proposed by Shinya Uehara and Chantelle Brewer of Chicago.

There has been some disagreement over whether the final design should be in keeping with the natural setting of the grove, or be more of a stand-out piece of architecture. Opponents of the latter, including Alice Russell-Shapiro, a landscape architect and founder of the Grove, argue that a grand monument would take away from the dignity and graveness of the site.

The National AIDS Memorial Grove was conceived in 1989 by a small group of San Franciscans who had lost loved ones to AIDS. Development of the Grove began in 1991. People come from all over the country and the world to enjoy the greenery, to hold private services, and to volunteer at monthly workdays. The Grove is governed by a board of directors who have signed a 99-year renewable agreement with the City of San Francisco through the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department to maintain it in perpetuity. The Grove is a project of the Tides Center, a non-profit corporation dedicated to social service and stewardship of the natural environment.

Note: The winner of the design competition will be announced on April 1, 2005