Tom Wiscombe Architecture (TWA) has been selected as the winner for “The Sunset Strip Spectacular Pilot Creative Off-Site Advertising Sign Request for Proposal” (RFP) competition for a site located at 8775 Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, California.

TWA’s proposal reinvents the billboard as an overall typology, replacing the static, image-based, automobile-centric qualities with digitally driven, interactive, and public-space–making approaches.

The RFP comes as the City of West Hollywood, California, seeks to modernize the ubiquitous billboards that dot the Sunset Strip, a 1.5-mile stretch of Sunset Boulevard that cuts across the city’s northwestern edge. The municipality’s RFP called on designers to “design a technologically advanced, engaging, one-of-a-kind, billboard structure” while also inspiring “a 21st century vision with contemporary digital and interactive technologies, media, and multidimensional graphic design.”

TWA’s proposal reinvents the billboard as an overall typology, replacing the static, image-based, automobile-centric qualities with digitally driven, interactive, and public-space–making approaches. The scheme takes the typical “sign-on-a-stick” billboard and rotates it 90 degrees so that the short edge of the sign rests on the ground. In the process, the billboard transforms from a sign to a bell tower and, in the architect’s words, “speaks to a world where commercial and cultural content can be hybridized, and media is no longer just a way of advertising but a way of life.”

These two, now-vertical billboard planes are then bent and folded into a configuration that allows for human occupation. The billboard assembly is placed onto the site, which is articulated in the manner of a public plaza.

Wiscombe described the project this way: “Just a few months ago, Elton John and Lady Gaga did a pop-up duet right nearby our site, in support of his AIDS Foundation. I like to think of ‘The Belltower’ as a contemporary catalyst and venue for civic engagements like that. We are also committed to making it into a kind of digital testing ground for artists, who will be curated by our partner MoCA. They will essentially be able to take it over for periods of time. I think that fusing together the worlds of art and commerce will give the project life and force us out of our habitual modes of consuming media.”

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