Seattle, WA
United States
Capitol Hill Station Plaza Seattle AIDS Legacy Memorial since 1 December 2019
without names
Seattle AIDS Legacy Memorial work to ramp up in 2018
City providing $200K in funding, more for outreach
Things are lining up for the Seattle AIDS Legacy Memorial as planning continues on an educational and reflective art project that will honor the history of Seattle/King County’s AIDS crisis and those who answered the call for help. The idea for a memorial was started by Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen as he was leaving office at the end of 2015. He brought Museum of History & Industry executive director Leonard Garfield and long-time HIV projects community volunteer Michele Hasson on board. “They decided that they would go for a little bit of city planning money to see about feasibility, and if there were a site for such a memorial,” said Paul Feldman, project consultant for the Seattle AIDS Legacy Memorial (SALM).

During the design process for transit-oriented development around the Capitol Hill light rail station, the SALM community advisory group received approval to proceed with planning and designing for a portion of the memorial to be sited in a new plaza that will sit in the middle of four new buildings between Broadway and 10th Avenue, and next to Cal Anderson Park. “We had decided it should be more than a physical memorial, so that’s one of the goals - a place for reflection and remembrance,” Feldman said, adding the group is also working with Seattle Parks and Recreation to expand the project to include the northern edge of Cal Anderson Park and possibly the festival street portion of East Denny Way. The vision for the Seattle AIDS Legacy Memorial is to create a place for sharing stories about how the community responded to the AIDS crisis in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and how that response put Seattle/King County in a better place than many cities around the country, Feldman said. It is also meant to look ahead, recognizing that the fight to end HIV/AIDS is not over.
The light rail vent house has long been expected to be one component of the project, Feldman said, and he sees the entire project being something people can engage with, in a sculptural form, through landscaping, painting, lighting, and even augmented reality. “We’re trying to do something pretty audacious, I guess I would say,” Feldman said. “We’re trying to put a memorial to a very sullen and sad time in our history in the midst of a very vibrant, multipurpose part of our neighborhood.”

The Seattle City Council included $200,000 for the project in SPR’s capital budget for 2018, which was recently released. Feldman said he expects a request for qualifications will be sent out for artists in the first quarter of 2018, and then a jury will be appointed to narrow down finalists, who will then be asked to come up with a specific site proposal. “We think that this will be a commission that will be very interesting to a number of artists, and very high profile,” Feldman said, “so we are hopeful and expect to get a good response.” The Department of Neighborhoods also recently announced a $90,000 grant - with a $51,969 community match - to SALM to engage communities of color in creating narratives and oral histories that will be celebrated around this time next year. Feldman said a consultant will be hired on to assist with this effort, which is being called the In-reach Initiative. “If we are to tell the story of what happened in the ‘80s and ‘90s, we want to be sure that we hear from as many communities within our larger community that we can,” Feldman said. African-Americans and African immigrant populations have suffered disproportionate rates of new infection compared to other populations, he said. “African-Americans are more likely to become HIV infected than their white counterparts, and that’s for a variety of reasons historical and current,” Feldman said, “and it’s not because certain people behave differently than other people.”
As the project begins taking more shape, Feldman said there will be increased public engagement. While organizational affiliations have not been sought, he said, the community group does include volunteers from Lifelong, Gay City, 3 Dollar Bill Cinema and Bailey-Boushay House.
Images (c) Gerding Edlen Development: This rendering shows what the Capitol Hill public plaza surrounded by transit-oriented developments is proposed to look like. Capitol Hill Times

24 December 2017
Brandon Macz, Seattle, WA