The Long Beach City Council authorized a contract Tuesday night with a firm that will design the city’s COVID-19 memorial, which is proposed to be installed at Lincoln Park in Downtown.

The council’s vote Tuesday approved $20,000 for PAO Design, a local firm that will work to finalize its proposed design and provide the city with a better cost estimate of its concept. It includes two brushed steel arches that would straddle Lincoln Park on the east and west, along with the names of Long Beach residents who died from COVID, which would be etched into the underside of the arches.

James Shen, a principal and founding partner with PAO, told the Post earlier this week that his firm picked Lincoln Park for a variety of reasons, including the lighting and security already at the park, but also the diverse collection of residents that frequent the park.

Shen said the steel arches would be hollow and contain a retractable covering that could be extended to create a temporary event space between the arches. The concept could also include pavers, with portions that are reflective, leading up to the arches.

A rendering of the COVID-19 memorial proposed by PAO Design. This rendering is looking looking west toward City Hall. Courtesy of PAO Design.

The names on the arches would slowly fade to black lines to represent the unknown victims of COVID-19, as well as people who will die from future pandemics.

The design elements were pieced together from previous projects that Shen and his firm have worked on, but this is the firm’s first memorial, he said. The concept is intended to reflect the permanence of the loss from COVID-19 but also the temporary nature of pandemics and their ability to bring communities together, Shen said.

Long Beach has already set aside $850,000 for the design and construction of a COVID-19 memorial. It’s unclear how much PAO Design’s final concept could cost the city, but the City Council would have to vote again to approve the final contract amount and construction contract before it gets installed.

Approving the contract was the last vote that the current City Council took together, an act that some saw fitting because of the tumultuous last few years the body faced as it worked to pass policies during the height of the pandemic, often under unprecedented circumstances.

City Council could approve contract for design of COVID-19 memorial installation

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.