New billboard on Sunset Blvd. will feature a vertical garden

In 2019, the City of West Hollywood launched The Sunset Boulevard Arts and Advertising Program, an initiative designed to engage local businesses, landowners, media companies and design firms to use innovative approaches to integrate the Sunset Strip’s iconic tradition of billboard advertising more thoroughly into the local landscape and culture. The latest of these efforts is ‘Standing Meadow’ a billboard that will stand adjacent to the rustic farm-to-table restaurant, Eveleigh and which is owned by out-of-home media company, Orange Barrel Media (OBM). Seeking a design partner that could effectively complement the restaurant’s intimate and lush aesthetic and desire to enrich the space’s advertising potential with a larger gesture, OBM partnered with innovative Los Angeles design firm RIOS, who have distinguished themselves with a community-oriented design approach that has already brought natural and sustainable elements to projects around the Sunset Strip. This design is currently in development and will take its place among a series of projects by the firm that embrace the natural surroundings and the evolving progression of Sunset Boulevard.

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“We’re always exploring interesting ways to hybridize natural expression and urban expression in these projects.” – RIOS Creative Director Andy Lantz

Blurring the boundaries of the city  

RIOS has made the greater West Hollywood vision for the Sunset Strip a priority in much of their recent work, prioritizing natural elements in their designs. 1 Hotel in West Hollywood for example has a large outdoor garden and an exuberance of planters, while the ‘Living Billboard’, former IAC building now occupied by Interactivecorp, features a 70-foot-wide green canopy facade watered with reclaimed mountain runoff. Projects like these have demonstrated the firm’s commitment to sustainable, community-focused design endeavors that highlight local flora and fauna without compromising the functional needs of these spaces. “We are always exploring interesting ways to hybridize natural expression and urban expression in these projects,” explained RIOS Creative Director Andy Lantz. “Bringing the natural chaparral landscape of the hills down into the urban areas not only enhances the aesthetics of these areas, but it contributes positively to the ecology of the area, juggling pollinators, migratory insects, and birds in the footprint of an urban street.”

For ‘Standing Meadow’, Orange Barrel Media— who recently made their mark on the Sunset Strip with the impactful Sunset Spectacular, the first digital signage project under the city’s new digital advertising program— sought an approach that would allow an analog billboard to have a distinct, natural presence within the grand scale of Sunset Boulevard while still serving to accent the artisanal restaurant that it shares a space with. Familiar with RIOS’s design work in the area, OBM retained their services to bring their vision to life.  “We saw this new billboard as an opportunity to bring a vertical garden to the intimate site and enhance the pedestrian experience,” said Pete Scantland, CEO of Orange Barrel Media. “We partnered with RIOS knowing they would balance sculptural form, lush landscape, and technical expertise to design a Standing Meadow in a tight space.”

Creating a vibrant pedestrian environment

Each proposed billboard has been reviewed by the city according to standards designed to promote economic benefits while also employing sustainable strategies within preexisting infrastructure. Not only does this encourage more community-oriented development, but it also provides an opportunity to redefine the form that these structures can take within the surrounding landscape. “One of the biggest ambitions that the City of West Hollywood has with this initiative is to encourage a greater understanding of how work in private development can amplify the public right away of experiences,” said Lantz. “As designers, it’s a really exciting opportunity for us to explore better and more organic ways to integrate advertising into the pedestrian experience.” 

Initially approaching the design, RIOS found inspiration in the surroundings of the Hollywood Hills and integrated these elements into the design of the billboard for an organic feel that would blend into the restaurant’s atmosphere naturally. Lantz and the RIOS design team achieved a delicate balance between these variables in their vertical design, which features a multi-planar garden in the pole structure on both sides of the board. “In the sixties and seventies, you never really acknowledged proximity to the surrounding landscape,” Lantz said. “So, what we are doing is blurring the boundaries between the natural interface and the edge of the city to make it a part of the landscape and reinforce a more intimate experience at the pedestrian scale.”

Since the Sunset Strip can be closed for events, another key criterion of the billboard program is how it allocates public events space. Lantz says they have been thoughtfully approaching the pedestrian experience in their designs to complement event planning in the area. “We look at the big picture of developing the regional corridor with projects such as this,” he explained. “From working with individual business owners to the bigger stakeholders in the area, we really aspire to augment the legacy of the Sunset Strip with these areas, and successfully integrate both analog and digital elements, where allowed, with a vibrant pedestrian environment.”

RIOS continues to refine these concepts in other work as well, including an ambitious proposal for West Hollywood’s 2020 competition for the Sunset Boulevard Gateway, which invited concepts that explored the twenty-first century evolution of this nightlife and advertising center. While they were shortlisted, they didn’t win the commission, but Lantz says this hasn’t dampened RIOS’ enthusiasm for continuing to pursue every opportunity to advance their goals for the Sunset corridor. RIOS is currently working on two billboards with Orange Barrel Media along the Sunset Strip, including a signage at the Comedy Store which celebrates the legacy of this cultural icon. These additional opportunities give added merit to these ideas. “Los Angeles is built on this wild-urban interface. It’s this idea that we are always sitting on the cusp of a natural space,” he said. “In all our projects we are focused on creating better human space, as much as possible. People don’t really walk the Sunset Strip, but our ultimate goal is to encourage that experience to be positive and place that focus front and center as an honest expression of what Los Angeles should be.” 

For more information about ‘Standing Meadow’ and other RIOS projects, please visit https://www.rios.com/

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Sonic Chaos
Sonic Chaos
10 months ago

Bring back more live music venues (that aren’t hidden in hotels), not billboards, and the people will return.

kimberly winick
kimberly winick
11 months ago

Actually, some people really DO walk the Sunset Strip. Perhaps design for us and more will come?

David
David
11 months ago

I can almost see this in the image.

Joshua88
Joshua88
11 months ago
Reply to  David

You have a better imagination than I do. I came on to complain about the lack of an adequate portrayal.

Everyone Loves Parks
Everyone Loves Parks
11 months ago

Lets get Mark Rios to design the 8850 Sunset Project now that he appears to be on the Home Team and transform it into a park. That would be a great idea rather than Thom Mayne’s Passe Erector Set.

JF1
JF1
11 months ago

Lipstick on a pig.

Interestingly Incidious
Interestingly Incidious
11 months ago

Although the billboard may be interesting, the relationship seems rather insidious……because that’s the way things work in WeHo.

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