The West Hollywood City Council will be asked Monday to endorse the selection of “The Belltower,” which one of its creators says will become “the most ‘Instagrammable’ billboard in the world, as a pilot digital project on Sunset Boulevard.
The project is intended to illustrate the evolution of outdoor advertising in the new media era and encourage other outdoor advertisers to be similarly creative on the Sunset Strip, which is known worldwide for its iconic billboards. It is described as the Sunset spectacular project, using the outdoor advertising industry term for a creative display that incorporates digital technologies.
The Belltower was chosen from among proposals submitted by nine teams, whose members included prominent architects such as the late Zaha Hadid, billboard companies such as JC Decaux and arts organizations such as MAK. The list of nine proposals was winnowed down to four by a jury that included representatives from outdoor advertising companies, architects, planners and urban designers and a variety of City Hall departments.
The city’s Community Development Department is recommending that the City Council authorize installing additional pilot digital sign projects from the four finalist teams. In addition to Orange Barrel, they include JCDecaux /Zaha Hadid Project Management Ltd./ Buro hapold; Outfront Media/Gensler/MAK and Tait Towers Inc.
If approved by the council, The Belltower will be erected on the city’s public parking lot at 8775 Sunset Blvd. near Horn Avenue after a complex process that includes final negotiations of a contract with the billboard team, an environmental impact study and review by local residents and the city’s Planning and Arts and Cultural Affairs commissions. According to a report from the city’s Community Development Department, there will be a final review by the City Council from mid- to late-2017.
The Belltower is a 72-foot, three-sided structure that incorporates a digital and a static screen as well as projected media. The sign includes dedicated areas for arts programming on the interior and exterior, as well as a public plaza surrounding the sign. The Community Development report says project judges “noted that this project responded most fully to the vision and intent of the pilot project, exploring the intersection of innovative technology, unique media programming capabilities including commercial and public art, and pedestrian engagement, as well as suggesting the integration of digital media with architectural forms. … The media partner is a firm that specializes in custom advertising installations, and the designer is a respected emerging Los Angeles architect.” Orange Barrel Media guarantees the city a minimum of $4.5 million in advertising revenue over five years.
Orange Barrel Media has experience working with local arts organizations according to the Community Development Department, citing work with the Art on the Marquee project in Boston. Tom Wiscombe Architecture has worked on many projects combining sculpture and architecture, including the Akron, Ohio, art museum designed by Coop Himmelb(l)au. Wiscombe also is working on the Main Museum of Los Angeles Art. MoCA’s task is to act as a curator and liaison with the art world. Walter P. Moore’s representative on the project is Greg Otto, who “has a reputation for enhancing innovative design with state of the art structural engineering.” Also working with the team is Imaginary Forces, whose advertising campaigns using contemporary media have included outdoor displays in Times Square and the Mad Men title sequence.