Long Beach Police and Fire Department Memorial

The City of Long Beach approached the team to develop the masterplan and design of the city’s downtown Civic Center area. The project included a new City Hall, Port Headquarters, and Main Public Library and adjoining open spaces. Existing buildings and landscape elements had to be demolished or refurbished, including a memorial to the fallen officers of the City’s Police and Fire Departments.


Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Practice Area


City of Long Beach


The Challenge

Memorials are significant structures that are intended to honor the fallen, while also giving the community a place where they can mourn. The design of the memorial needed to reflect the gravitas of grief, while being abstract enough that individuals could find their own meaning in its design. The difficult reality that the design would need to account for additional names in the future required careful thought.

Project Vision

At the center of this concept is the folded American flag, derived from the tradition of taking the American flag that drapes over a fallen officer’s coffin and completing a folding ceremony before it is handed to the deceased loved ones. Loss of life while serving in the Police and Fire Departments is a reality. The memorial would honor those lost in the line of duty from 1912- 2070, which meant the design needed to account for future loss of life. Organization of the names was also critical; grieving individuals should not struggle to find loved ones’ names.

The Memorial is located in a recessed plaza adjacent to Long Beach City Hall. The arc of the memorial matches the complex geometry of the raised planting area.

Design Team

We honor each individual who has fallen in the line of duty with a folded American flag which symbolizes their ultimate sacrifice.

Design Team and Africa Studio

The names of the fallen are engraved in cast bronze along with the shield of either Fire or Police Department.

Design Team

The memorial was designed to be fully assembled in the manufacturer’s shop to maintain the tightest tolerances possible. It was then disassembled in four large sections to be transported.

Design Team

Design + Execution

The triangle module served as a reference to the folded flag, without being a literal interpretation of it cast in bronze. The use of bronze gives a nod to traditional memorials, but ultimately signifies the structure’s importance within the surrounding environment, while also referencing the warm metal of officers’ badges. Each element of the memorial is loaded with meaning, yet the overall design is graphically restrained. All of the dedication triangle plaques run parallel along the first layer of the memorial. Black triangles were fabricated for the potential scenario where a blank bronze triangle needs to be removed to be engraved. The black triangle would be a temporary stand-in while the permanent plaque is engraved–signalling to the community that tragedy has occurred. The color black was selected to reference the black mourning bands that officers wear across their shields when a fellow officer is lost in the line of duty. Name plaques are arranged chronologically, beginning on the top left side of the memorial, to make it simple for visitors to find their loved ones name.

The use of bronze gives a nod to traditional memorials, but ultimately signifies the structure’s importance within the surrounding environment, while also referencing the warm metal of officers’ badges.

Andreas Yanikian

Some of the triangles that compose the middle and back layers of the screen display the stars of the American flag, giving a nod to the origins of the concept.

Andreas Yanikian

The presence of flowers placed over a triangle name plaque signified to us that loved ones have interacted with the memorial, and have found solace in its presence.

Andreas Yanikian

Project Details
The memorial's vision and modern structure so beautifully pay homage to the fallen officers. I loved how the design elements together are orchestrated in a meaningful way.
Juror 1
This project celebrates the service and sacrifice of fallen firefighters with such grace. We appreciated the shift from more familiar representational iconography. The composition, form, and material create a moving and powerful memorial experience.
Juror 2
This memorial departs from conventional modes of depicting the police and firefighters which tend to be overly mythologizing and masculine. Instead, it is integrated with the landscape through its horizontality and transparency. It humanizes them as a community of professionals that serve people, and hopefully it changes perceptions of the role of these professionals within their professions and beyond.
Juror 3
Design Team

Kacey Bills
Nathan Bluestone
Paul Danna
Lonny Israel
Dan Maxfield
Nour Mourad
Jose Palacios
Brad Thomas
Jennifer Williams
Jed Zimmerman


Penwal Industries (fabricator)

Photo Credits

Andreas Yanikian, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (photography)
Africa Studio (photography)

Open Date

February 2020