To Serve and Reflect

Story
David Herjeczki, Christopher Keough, Li Wen (Gensler—Los Angeles)

Image Credits*
Ryan Gobuty (Gensler—Los Angeles): Pages 1, 3a, 4d-f, 5
Gensler: Pages 2, 3b-e
A. Zahner Co.: Page 4a-b

Brian Vander Burg/Los Angeles Times: Page 4c

*For detailed information, please roll over imagery on individual story pages.

Contact
Christopher Keough (Gensler—Los Angeles): christopher_keough@gensler.com

Project Team
Gary Downer, Richard Hammond, David Herjeczki, Edward Huang, Robert Jernigan, Hae-Sun Kim, Philippe Pare, Dominick Ricci, Li Wen

Dedication

The Los Angeles Police Foundation held a formal dedication ceremony for the memorial within two weeks of its installation.  The LAPD family and city dignitaries assembled for an evening of respect and remembrance.

Beyond its physical presence as a permanent reminder of sacrifice, this wall of brass plates, designed to appear solid from a distance and finely articulated when drawing close, represents the duality of individuals collected for a common cause. For this important civic work, Gensler donated its design services. The memorial is now open to the public 24 hours a day.

Fabrication

The memorial was constructed by Tutor Saliba Corp., with metalwork performed by A. Zahner Co. in Kansas City. Gensler and A. Zahner used advanced modeling software to coordinate design and fabrication of the metal components.

The memorial so captured the attention and emotions of the Kansas City Police Department that officers escorted the delivery truck to the city limits as it left for the 1,600-mile journey to Los Angeles. An LAPD escort met the truck at the Los Angeles city limits and shepherded it to the new LAPD headquarters where it was hoisted by crane and installed in an afternoon.

The Los Angeles Police Department’s recently revealed Memorial to Fallen Officers pays moving tribute to those who died in the line of duty.

Designed as an office-wide project by Gensler Santa Monica, the wall reflects both the unity of the police force and the sacrifice of individual officers for the common good. The memorial’s creation is a story of directed collaboration and the power of collective creativity to affirm the human experience.

Image: An LAPD officer contemplates the Memorial

Process

When the Los Angeles Police Foundation board approached Gensler about donating time to the memorial, office design directors recognized an opportunity. More than one team’s pro bono design project, the memorial provided an occasion to explore the design process as an office-wide effort. Given just two directives — the site location and a stipulation that the memorial not provide a place of refuge for potential threats to the LAPD — the design directors extended an open invitation to studio colleagues. The assignment: present ideas on the meaning of memorials and how these concepts could be applied to the LAPD.  

The exercise produced 30 ideas that varied from the intimate to the monumental, from the material to the informational, and from the symbolic to the abstract. Design directors then organized the diverse concepts into four categories for further consideration: memorial as room, memorial as object, memorial as field composition, and memorial as landscape. This directed collaborative process generated lively discussions that informed the design process and produced a memorial concept.

Concept

Sited in a plaza adjacent the new police headquarters, the memorial lies in Downtown Los Angeles across 1st Street from City Hall. It is a public space intended for the police and the community they are sworn to protect. To the north of the plaza is a formal space for police ceremonies and to the south an informal garden for congregation and contemplation. The memorial serves as the threshold between these two spaces, acknowledging the police as mediators between the streets and the laws that govern them.

When contemplating an appropriate material for the memorial, designers focused on the object most sacred to the LAPD: the brass badge. More than 2,000 brass plates capture, reflect and refract daylight to create a shimmering presence. The effect is a wall that reads as a solid surface from a distance, while the plates appear to float in a glowing light from closer vantage.

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