COVID-19 Memorial

Client Conceptual Only
Location New York City, NY
Project Type Public
Status Concept Only

The COVID-19 Memorial proposes a temporary island in the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park.

This proposal for a memorial to the pandemic years offers a space for the living to reflect on the impact and losses suffered during the pandemic, and a space to find solace in the company of others, an especially important feature after a time of isolation and loneliness.

Sited in the middle of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park, a temporary island becomes accessible once a year when the water level in the reservoir falls to reveal a submerged stone dam that runs the length of the reservoir from north to south, as if an exhalation of water reveals a hidden path. The decommissioned stone gate houses at either end of this path are reopened and become points of entry and exit in a processional experience.

The island itself is composed of two halves, forming a circle that is bisected equally by the path. These floating wood platforms create a dock that is anchored at the center of the reservoir, in the center of the city. A smaller circular void is placed off-center, relative to the larger circle, to create a crescent-like arrangement of raised steps and bleachers around it. This arrangement allows groups and individuals to gather together or apart, to focus inward or outward depending on their needs.

The nature of this proposal is meant to create both a place and a ritual. Assembled for a week-long presence that marks roughly the ‘felt’ beginning of the pandemic in New York City in mid-March 2020, it is imagined as an open-ended memorial service that different people will use in different ways that are meaningful to them. The temporal nature of the island invests a sense of ephemerality in a place that will disappear for a year, submerging with it our rituals of recollection. They will remain in the city’s consciousness, below the surface of the water.

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