The Sunset Strip, that mile and a half stretch of Sunset Boulevard from Havenhurst Drive on the east to Sierra Drive on the west, is known as the place where bands like Led Zeppelin, The Doors, The Byrds, Van Halen, Mötley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses made names for themselves playing at clubs like Whisky a Go Go, the Roxy, Pandora’s Box and the London Fog.
Anyone who has driven along The Strip also knows it is a gallery for that form of commercial art known as the billboard. The classic versions of them, through the 60s, 70s and 80s are documented by Robert Landau in his “The Rock ‘N Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip.” While the power, and some say the beauty, of a billboard has diminished in the age of digital media, it can still be a powerful way to catch someone’s eye.
Now two new billboards are going up on The Strip near its intersection with La Cienega Boulevard that will be as eye catching for their structure as for the images they carry.
The billboards will sit atop a curved metal pedestal designed by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects. Lorcan O’Herlihy, the firm’s principal, said it undertook the project because he likes an opportunity to “rethink conventional urban infrastructure.”
O’Herlihy describes the structure as a “fluid gesture, inspired by the stream of traffic coursing below. The billboard enacts an abstraction of movement and motion captured in space.”
The fact that it is blue is no accident. The blue is a reference to the sky. “Los Angeles is one of the few cities I think in the world that always has a blue sky,” said O’Herlihy, who has worked in places as dark as Paris and New York City and came to Los Angeles in 1990.
“I do like color, color, color” he said, noting the multiple hues of the 11-unit condominium building his firm designed at 1140 Formosa Ave. and the charcoal and green shades of a condominium building next to the Schindler House on Kings Road.
The billboard structure, which will hold billboards owned by Ace Billboard, is not Lorcan O’Herlihy’s only project on Sunset Boulevard. The firm also has been engaged by CIM Group to work with SOM to design two eight-story residential buildings that will be part of the Sunset | La Cienega project.
As simple as the structure appears to anyone driving by, getting billboards on top of it was a major task, as chronicled by photographer Jon Viscott on the pages that follow: