Tag Archives: MEMORIAL


April 14, 2023

It is often said that history is cyclical; when humanity disregards the lessons of the past, we are doomed to repeat it. Racism against Asians has been on the rise. Individuals continue to be under threat. As a society, we have not learned from past failures, and we are bearing witness to history repeating itself. Round and round, the past returns to haunt us. This destructive circle must be broken. If not, history has taught us nothing, and the past, which has become the present, will continue into our future.

It was the year 1871. In downtown Los Angeles, a mob of 500 people—driven by hate, racism, and a mere misunderstanding—lynched 18 Chinese men without hesitation.

In 2022, the Los Angeles’ Department of Cultural Affairs organized an international design competition for the 1871 Chinese Massacre Memorial. Poon Design Inc. proposed two design concepts to honor the slain individuals. Located adjacent to the Chinese American Museum, the proposed memorial would sit a few blocks from the entrance gate to Los Angeles’ Chinatown.


The traditional Chinese Moon Gate is a circular opening that is incomplete at the bottom, a passageway between two circumstances. In our design proposal, this gateway is transformed into a portal between the horrors of the past and the optimism of the future. As tradition suggests, the gate—inspired by the shape of the full moon—rises from the earth, symbolizing birth and renewal. Marking the passage of time, the lunar cycle can also signify memory and learning, sorrow and protest, perpetuation and tranquility.

Akin to a halo hovering above North Los Angeles Street, our circular memorial comprises 24 steel and aluminum frames forming a horizontal Moon Gate, a portal between city and sky, mortal and immortal. The frame holds 18 translucent glass panels, each representing a different slain man. The incomplete circle displays six empty frames alluding to the additional unknown murdered individuals. As further historical research identifies these currently unknown individuals, new panels can be added to complete the circle.

Perceived from within the neighborhood, day or night, standing beyond or within the memorial—integrated LED lighting and transparent holographic technology will present a visual display honoring the slain Chinese, as well as historically-themed art installations to be programmed in collaboration with the community.


At 20 feet tall, 18 steel plates stand in an incomplete ellipse, recalling a Moon Gate. Each steel plate represents a slain man and towers over the visitor like sentinels demanding recognition and acknowledgement. Like looming apparitions, the steel plates twist and contort, evoking the torture these men suffered. Additionally, the traditional circular shape of the Moon Gate has been intentionally misshaped into an ellipse, symbolic of how each individual deformed their spirit and identity in an attempt to conform.

Expressing the duality of identities that these men needed to survive and assimilate; the steel plates are finished coarse on one side and polished on the other. Visitors confront this unsettling past within their own reflection. Six additional steel pieces are set flush in the stone pavers representing unknown lynched individuals. Within this perimeter of ominous steel sculpture, an ethereal glow of light emanates through translucent glass under the feet of the visitor representing the enduring will of these Chinese men, as well as a more hopeful future.

Our two design proposals are not merely objects or monuments, nor are they representational statues on a pedestal, but rather abstract and open-ended experiences. As enigmatic compositions of experiential art, sculpture, and architecture, the designs honor those that have been lost, never letting us ignore the sins of humanity and telling a story of consequence, recovery, and courage.


January 26, 2018

Linea Residence L, Palm Springs, California, by Poon Design and Andrew Adler (photo by Locke Pleninger)

When you meet a chef, do you ask, “Do you cook chicken or fish?”

If you did ask such a stupid question, the chef would be thinking how absurd you sound. At the same time, this chef would be thinking of the thousands of things he cooks, in addition to “chicken or fish.”

When someone meets an architect, the first (and only) question is , “Do you design residential or commercial?” Please realize that the field of architecture—that the world— is made up of much more than houses and office buildings.

The Container Yard art center, Los Angeles, California, by Poon Design

I would guess that “residential and commercial” architecture only comprises 5% of the types of projects we design. When one considers that architecture includes museums and galleries, bridges and highways, churches and temples, hospitals and pharmacies, schools and universities, community centers and parks, libraries and theaters, memorials and gardens, stadiums and arenas, parking structures and parking lots, etc. and etc., as well as the commonly acknowledged “residential or commercial”—architecture is everything that is designed and constructed around you. Architecture is both the blank canvas that provides for the imprint of your life, as well as the vessel that holds it.

In simply looking at my own architectural works, there are several dozen building types I have designed. What can architecture be?

An exhibition place to experience the wonders of the arts and science.

Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Colorado, by Anthony Poon (w/ HHPA, photo by HHPA)

A sacred place to gather and worship.

The lobby of the River of Life Christian Church, San Jose, California, by Poon Design (rendering by Amaya)

An optimistic place of higher learning.

Harrington Learning Commons, Sorbrato Technology Center and Orradre Library, Santa Clara University, California, by Anthony Poon (w/ HHPA, photo by HHPA)

A sweet place to bite into candy.

Sugarfina, Beverly Hills, California, by Poon Design (photo by Poon Design)

An energetic place for sports and competiion.

NFL stadium adjacent to Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California, by Anthony Poon and Greg Lombardi (w/ NBBJ)

An active place for education and emotional development.

Valley Academy of the Arts & Science, Granada Hills, California, by Anthony Poon (w/ A4E and GKK, photo by GKK)

A master planned place for growth and development.

Menlo School and Menlo College, Atherton, California, by Anthony Poon (w/ HHPA, photo by HHPA)

An invigorating place to sweat and recharge.

Aura Cycle, Los Angeles, California, by Poon Design (photo by Aura Cycle)

A public place where citizens can assemble.

Urban canopies and public plaza, Irvine, California, by Poon Design

A place of grief and remembrance.

Contraband & Freedmen’s Cemetery Memorial, Alexandria, Virginia, by Poon Design
Student Activities Center, University of California, Los Angeles, by Anthony Poon (w/ HHPA, photo by Anthony Poon)

A social place for student life.

We need all the above places  (and many more) to live, and we want these places to be heartfelt. We need places to go to work, and we want these places to be comfortable and efficient. We need schools, and we want these places to be encouraging and supportive. Our neighborhoods need places to gather, and we want these places to be democratic and energized. Our communities need churches to worship in, and we want these places to be inspirational and transcendent. Our businesses need places to thrive, and we want these places to be strategic and informed. Our politicians need places to debate, and we want these places to ignite strength and influence.

So next time you meet a chef, do ask him, “What kind of cuisine do you cook?” And next time you meet an architect, ask him, “What kind of projects do you design?”

© Poon Design Inc.