What’s a Difference?: Two Billboards for the Sunset Strip [M1]

Architecture’s role in the city is, at least in part, to form civic arrangements that suggest the possible parameters of political life. Traditionally this has taken the form of public institutions, squares, and monuments, instantiating (or just as often imposing) a shared ethos and set of values. This studio undertakes a decidedly more contemporary opportunity and approach to urban monumentality. The design of two very large billboard structures for the Sunset Strip, under the parameters of West Hollywood’s new Design Excellence program, will ask the studio to operate at the unlikely intersection of civic ambition and advertising.

This studio will design two billboard structures on the Sunset Strip, conceived in relation to each other and at key locations on the Strip. The billboard structures will respond to West Hollywood’s criteria for their Sunset Boulevard Design Excellence Program. The first site, near the western end of the strip at the northern terminus of San Vicente Boulevard, is across the street from the Whiskey-a-Go-Go nightclub. The second site is at the extreme eastern end of the Strip. Considered the Strip’s gateway from Hollywood, it is the location of the former and famous (infamous?) Marlboro Man billboard.

At the first site, the structure will hold three billboards, one of which is digital, each measuring approximately 1,200 square feet in billboard surface (110 square meters) At the second site, the structure will hold two billboards, one digital, each approximately 2,000 square feet (185 square meters). Such billboard structures are often over 100 feet (30 meters) tall and have foundations that may sink 50 feet (15 meters) or more into the ground. In both sites, public amenities or enhancements are to be created at the street level.

Except for some studio-wide research and documentation at the beginning of the course, each student will independently design a project for both sites.

The work of the studio will mostly be architectural. Therefore it is intended primarily for students in architecture or with an architecture background.

Among the other final presentation requirements, each student will be asked to make a large-scale model of their two billboards.