West Hollywood, CA
United States
West Hollywood Park, Santa Monica Blvd & San Vincente Blvd Stories - The AIDS Monument since 1 December 2024
Council pauses AIDS Monument project to curtail runaway construction costs
City Council rejected the lone bid for construction of STORIES: The AIDS Monument at their meeting Tuesday night, preventing what would have been a nearly four-fold cost increase for the project. The bid by PCL Construction came in at a cost of $14.1 million, which is an approximate increase of $9.4 million from the $4.67 million 2020 projection, and a construction schedule duration of 20 to 22 months.

Rick Abramson, architect and manager of the city’s Urban Design and Architecture Studio, called the bid “rather surprising … in terms of the cost of the monument and the length of time it would take to construct it.” “Staff did a debriefing with the lone bidder to better understand what was driving the cost and time frame. For a variety of factors, including market forces, issues related to detailing and scope of work, availability of materials, and time frame in terms of the supply chain and a number of other considerations, it didn’t seem prudent to move forward with that process,” Abramson said. Councilmember Lauren Meister thanked Abramson and his team for their recommendation. “What we don’t want is a money pit,” Meister said. “You know, we’re just it just keeps growing and growing and growing into something that we just never anticipated.”

The collaborative project between the Foundation for the AIDS Monument (FAM) and the City of West Hollywood aims to memorialize the devastation of HIV/AIDS on the nation, honor the courageous activists, caregivers, and community leaders through their stories, and raise awareness about the history and stigma of living with HIV/AIDS. The monument will be located prominently in West Hollywood Park along San Vicente Boulevard and will function as an iconic public art experience and memorial site. The Arts & Cultural Affairs Commission approved the Stage II Schematic Art Plan for the project in February 2020.

In November 2020, the City Council approved the Second Revised and Restated Memorandum of Understanding between the City of West Hollywood and the Foundation for the AIDS Monument, where FAM provided the city with design and engineering drawings and specifications to be used as “bridging documents” for bidding and contracting with a design-build team. The bridging documents produced by FAM’s artist team were to be used to select a contracting team through “design-build” procurement method. Due to market conditions, level of document quality and scoping, and a limited number of local design-build entities with experience in public art, there was only one team that responded.

Irwin Rappaport with the Foundation explained his organization’s current role in the project. “We have stopped raising money for the capital campaign, as per the agreement we entered into years ago to partner with the city on the finishing of the monument,” Rappaport said. “We have been raising limited amounts of money for our educational projects, community outreach, website, and social media as a foundation in the interim before the monument is built. However, we haven’t been raising money for construction because we have already reached the goal we set out for the campaign. It is difficult for us to continue to raise money for the monument under the current circumstances as people are wondering when it will be completed.”

Council voted to approve a contract with LPA, the firm to produce the construction drawings, to amend the agreement with the Foundation to allow greater flexibility in how the city delivers the project — “it may be through design-bid-build, or it might be through design-build,” Abramson said. “Lastly, we would be going back to the Council’s subcommittee to continue working on the project and getting guidance before we come back with hopefully a much better story about building the monument,” he said.

Image © Daniel Tobin WeHoville

22 February 2023
WeHoville staff, West Hollywood