Opinion: West Hollywood Should Choose Zaha Hadid’s Design for the ‘Sunset Spectacular’ Billboard

The Zaha Hadid design for the ‘Sunset Spectacular’ project on Sunset Boulevard.

This is a plea to West Hollywood’s Mayor and City Councilmembers to reconsider the current choice for the Sunset Spectacular billboard and to instead select the design presented by JC Decaux and Zaha Hadid.

I know this process has gone down the road. I apologize for my lateness; however, I think this decision is far too important to simply allow timing to interfere with correcting what I think would be nothing less than an enormous error.

The Hadid piece is a truly masterful solution to this competition, created by an internationally revered and historic architect, that eminently satisfies not only the design requirements of the initiative but also is a solution that is quite respectful of the surrounding neighborhood. Rather than being heavy, awkward, and massive, it enhances this neighborhood.

The sculptural form lifts itself elegantly and meets the ground lightly and is a truly radical yet appropriate solution toward bringing creativity to the design of advertising billboards. It would be a lasting error to construct a lesser design for such an important initiative that is located so prominently. The Hadid proposal would bring a true architectural landmark to the Sunset Strip and to the City of West Hollywood.

As I understand, the Hadid solution was very close in ranking and total points to the selected work and its income points were very close as well. These minimal differences are far outweighed by the high visibility that this structure will have for many years to come.

I have been in contact with members of the local neighborhood who also lean toward acceptance of this proposal over any of the other solutions.

I make this request to you with heartfelt confidence that the Zaha Hadid design will bring pride and acclaim to this city for having made the positive, courageous, and formidable selection that this design brings.

I thank you in advance for taking a moment to fully consider this historic opportunity that we have.

  1. The ICA Building, diagonal to this site on the south side, has an imaginative green trellis designed by Rios, Clemente Hale. It appears to be flourishing and the idea could be a catalyst for additional links to this type of installation. Although I am not privy to the revenues involved in the billboard company or the projected budget of the current chosen winner for the Sunset Spectacular location, there is an opportunity to accomplish a win, win, win with a green installation. It deserves discussion.

  2. So much discussion focusing on a revenue producing billboard enhanced by the efforts of competing design teams with varying subjective merits. One could ask: What is the Public Benefit”? Having a fancied billboard is ultimately of value to the billboard company and presumably the advertiser. One gets that, but again, what is the Public Benefit?

    West Hollywood likes to be in the forefront of progressive ideas and action and in some respects addresses environmental responsibility. The cover of the 113 page Climate Action Plan, showing a big, fluffy green tree in full canopy, addresses Green Space and particularly additional benefits that can be provided beyond our “urban forests”, parks, landscaped medians and parkways. It states that the city recognizes trees as a valuable asset to beautify neighborhoods, increase property values, reduce noise/air pollution and create habitat for bird species.

    TREES CAPTURE AND STORE CARBON. This Sunset Spectacular location qualifies as a viable opportunity for unique and responsible effort in real climate action yet it was overlooked. If we are going to entertain a reconsideration of this site it would be wise to open the discussion to Green Inspiration in this important location which would be seen by residents and tourists on a daily basis.

    Today is EARTH DAY. Let’s hear some applause and support!

  3. It’s not clear at all to me where the advertisement is in the image. This would seem to be a fairly major omission in a rendering that is supposed to show a “billboard” of some nature.

  4. With all due respect, there are other considerations at play here besides just how artistic the instillation is. The billboard must also be practical and something which advertisers will be willing to spend money advertising on knowing that their message can be seen clearly. The billboard must also fit into the unique nature of the Sunset Strip. The chosen proposal does this, this artistic but ultimately impractical installation does not…

    1. With equal respect Zaha Hadid designs which have completely redefined Urban Architecture with their unique take on form, function and geometry: have very serious practicality taken into consideration. Please note the contrast between the 2 designs. With the Zaha Hadid design in the picture seen from street view we can see how careful placement of repeated elements of design serve to selectively target the pedestrians as the intended audience, in stark contrast to the poorly selected design which is simply an example of bombastic commercialism. Considering the “long term” interests of advertisers (given that self interest is the sole motivator of capitalist sociopaths) if your message is far too ubiquitous it’s likely to be ignored or even work against you. Also the smooth curves of the Zaha Hadid design add to its durability, in stark contrast to the prefab quick fix sharp angled digital billboard booth that makes it a high maintenance mistake with a future that insures its contribution to the scrap metal venders.

      The Zaha Hadid designs also fit in well with the Great City of West Hollywood’s creative design culture along with social and political activism, as opposed to mindless short term commercialism. I must also admit that from the time I first took “Elements and Principals of Design” my admiration and reverence for Zaha Hadid could predispose me to considerable bias in favor of her designs but, the opinions of those who matter far more made her one of the worlds greatest architects!

  5. This is really beautiful and fits into the design of the park and the street perfectly. This is the one they should use.

  6. Zaha Hadid’s design is a true work of Art. If the city of West Hollywood would like to attract visitors, this will do it because it is art and not just ANOTHER billboard with advertisement that can be seen anywhere…
    With all these new hotels opening on Sunset, tourists would come to visit a real piece of Art.
    It is a win win to everyone concerned: the neighborhood would really rejoice to see a beautiful art piece , the city would attract more visitors that would actually come specifically to see real Art and not another billboard and it is not invasive to the immediate homes ( with the light and sound planned with the billboard ).
    West Hollywood is a beautiful and unique neighborhood. So please let’s keep it that way and do not let greed talk…
    You want a billboard? Why not put it across the Moca and Pacific Design Center, near the Park? That won’t bother anyone because there are no homes in the immediate proximity and the City can get its revenue from the ads over there as well as Moca can feature its artists across the street…
    Please take care of Weho residents….

  7. Zaha Hadid’s Design is Beautiful! Elegant, Classy, Perfect, much better then all the other sculptures I’ve seen around West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. And I also way prefer this option oner that silly Billboard Plan. This is not Times Square, nor it is Hollywood Blvd, this is a beautiful neighborhood and entertainment center. Please let’s keep it that way.

  8. Considering that there is no foot traffic to speak of at this location and the raison d’etre of the billboard tower is solely to attract the eye of passing cars, the inevitability of accidents caused by distracted drivers is a certainty. Numerous independent studies have long shown that digital billboards in cities result in increased accidents. Why the elected officials of West Hollywood would even consider approving such a thing is proof beyond a shadow of a doubt that they put money over public safety. It would be interesting to see how much they are receiving in campaign contributions for their votes. Perhaps after a sufficient number of accident fatalities at this spot they will turn the parking lot into a cemetery (provided, of course, that there’s a way they can profit from that too.

  9. While my preference would be not to increase the number of billboards on the Strip, and certainly not to have a 7-story billboard so close to residences, the Zaha Hadid project is a clearly a superior design to the self-important Wiscombe “Bell Tower Spectacular” the City wants to move forward with.
    If the City’s intent is truly that this is first and foremost an art project, as claimed, and not merely a barely-disguised attempt to grab even more billboard revenue for their coffers, than why wasn’t this design chosen in the first place?
    There is a much smaller footprint so the neighborhood wouldn’t lose any valuable parking spaces. It is less obtrusive at street-level so there should be less of a traffic impact at this very congested intersection.
    There are no ramps, benches, interior spaces, sound & light displays and other bells & whistles that the designers of the current project say will encourage tourists to treat the “tower” as a destination, but are in truth merely silly, unrealistic features that would never be utilized for what is just a billboard sitting in the middle of a parking lot.
    The Hadid design is a fluid elegant glyph not unlike Brancusi’s Bird in Space sculpture of which it is strongly reminiscent. It would be a challenge for artists and advertisers to create visuals to effectively enhance the creative content space, which would not be the case for the current project. This really might be a unique landmark design worthy of a peek.
    Furthermore, Martin’s comments on this project should be noted in another regard. He is a member of the Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission and a respected artist in his own right. His Commission did not vote on the original presentation. The ARTS Commission!!! What does this Commission do if this City doesn’t ask their input on something they are promoting as an important art project?
    This is a huge project on the edge of a residential neighborhood, staring less than 50’ into the windows of dozens of residences and, at 7-stories high, right into the high-rises up the hill. The neighborhood wasn’t given the opportunity to vote what was going to be smack-dab in its face. Plus, I know at least one and possibly two City Councilmembers preferred the Hadid design over the tacky design that was eventually chosen.
    Exactly who made the final decision? City staff with no experience in design? Marketing executives? BILLBOARD EXECUTIVES, perhaps? We’ve asked but not received answers. It’s all very vague.
    In summary, I believe my neighbors would prefer not to have a 7-story billboard right next to their windows but, if given a choice, I believe there would be a preference for this Naha Hadid design over the clumsy, heavy, garish one that we have been protesting against since it was first announced.
    Give the public who will be impacted a chance to be heard. Don’t leave it in the hands of staff or people who have a financial interest in the end result.

    1. I agree with Elyse. If there is another public hearing on this matter, we should raise the issue. I wasn’t even aware of the competing proposal.

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