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Here Are The 6 Designs Competing To Become LA’s Memorial To The 1871 Chinese Massacre

An artist rendering of a mural on the 110 freeway featuring Asian American icons.
A panel has narrowed the design proposals down to six. This is a rendering from the design team of Anna Sew Hoy, Zhu Jia and Formation Association
(Courtesy City of L.A. Department of Cultural Affairs)
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One of the worst attacks on Chinese people in the U.S. took place in Los Angeles, but it remains a shrouded piece of history that many in the city have never heard of.

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LA Selects Finalists In Competition To Design 1871 Chinese Massacre Memorial

A project to remember the 1871 massacre that killed at least 18 people — or about one-tenth of Los Angeles’ Chinese population at the time — is one step closer to reality.

The city’s Department of Cultural Affairs has selected six design finalists from a pool of 176 entries submitted from all over the world.

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All the design teams include members with AAPI backgrounds. Four of the teams hail from L.A.

"There’s elegance, and an eloquence about the way that the designers are treating the subject matter that was really sort of poignant and profound," said Felicia Filer, the director of the department’s public art division.

Filer said the finalist designs also share expert maneuvering of space constraints dictated by the density of downtown L.A., where the attack took place and where the memorial will be located.

The proposed budgets vary widely — from $350,000 to $1.5 million — and will be paid for by a combination of support from the city and private donors, Filer said.

The goal is to choose a winning design by late March. But first, the city is turning to the public for feedback. You can email your comments to: dca.publicart@lacity.org.

The city says it plans to hold a Zoom presentation of the six proposals in mid-February.

A close-up of a bronze sidewalk plaque with both English and Chinese font.
A bronze sidewalk plaque on Los Angeles Street near El Pueblo de Los Angeles is the only marker of the 1871 massacre.
(Josie Huang/LAist)

Next steps

The designers will then have about a month to revise their proposals and undergo interviews with the selection panel, which includes Yale architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne, who used to be the city’s chief design officer; Jason Chu, a rapper and community activist; and Clara Kim, chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

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Right now, the only marker of the massacre is a bronze plaque in the sidewalk in front of the Chinese American Museum in downtown L.A.

The project to build a more meaningful memorial was launched in 2021 on the 150th anniversary of the massacre by former Mayor Eric Garcetti, who also issued an apology on behalf of the city for the killings.

The anniversary coincided with a rise in anti-Asian attacks, adding urgency to the memorial project.

Filer said many of the applicants knew little about the massacre until they developed their proposals.

“This project is allowing those designers and artists to educate themselves [on the massacre] and then actually respond to it,” she said.

Here are the finalists' proposals:

Fung + Blatt Architects

Los Angeles

A rendering of a memorial that features an infinity mirror box, a broken boulder, a field of coal-black ingots, a worker’s stool and a white pine.
Part of the design proposal by Fung + Blatt Architects.
(City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs)

Sze Tsung, Nicolás Leong, Judy Chui-Hua Chung

Los Angeles

Anna Sew Hoy, Zhu Jia, Formation Association

Los Angeles

A rendering of downtown L.A. with City Hall in the background and a sculptural monument comprised of colonnades. People walk through the street while lion dancers perform in the background.
Part of the design proposal by Anna Sew Hoy and Zhu Jia and Formation Association.
(Courtesy of City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs)

Frederick Fisher, David Ross, Takashige Ikawa, Iustina Nicolae and Candice Lin

Los Angeles

James Leng, Jennifer Ly and J. Roc Jih

San Francisco

A rendering of a limestone sculpture with an opening in the middle where a bonsai plant sits. The sculpture dwarfs the woman looking at it.
Part of the design proposal by James Leng, Jennifer Ly, J. Roc Jih.
(City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs)

Sonam Lhamo, Jiawei Yao and Yiying

Seattle

Have a question about Southern California's Asian American communities?
Josie Huang reports on the intersection of being Asian and American and the impact of those growing communities in Southern California.