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One of Zaha Hadid's Last Projects Could Be a Billboard on the Sunset Strip

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Hadid's firm is one of four finalists in West Hollywood's competition for a cutting-edge sign

West Hollywood is in the midst of reconsidering its policies toward billboards on the Sunset Strip—a stretch of street once known for its billboards—potentially adding new rules that would require future ads be more visually exciting, using lighting, three-dimensional elements, moving parts, and/or many other flashy accoutrements. In light of that, WeHo's gotten the ball rolling by starting up a pilot project that would install a striking, temporary billboard at 8775 Sunset Boulevard, a city-owned parcel.

To decide what would go on the spot, West Hollywood accepted nine proposals and chose four finalists, a press release for the program says. The four finalists are teams of JCDecaux and Zaha Hadid Project Management Ltd.; Orange Barrel Media/Tom Wiscombe Architecture/MoCA; Outfront Media/Gensler/MAK Center; and Tait Towers Inc. The WeHo project page notes that, although architect Zaha Hadid died in March, "her legacy is enduring and embedded in the design studio she created."

WeHo asked that all the designs aim to create "a technologically advanced, engaging, one-of-a-kind billboard structure," and all the finalists' really ran with that, submitting some very futuristic designs straight out of Blade Runner, including a kinetic billboard structure and signage that connects with viewers through social media.

All four of the finalists' designs will be presented at a community meeting tomorrow; they're collected below.

JCDecaux and Zaha Hadid Project Management Ltd.

This design, called The Prism, would incorporate a uniquely shaped sign surrounded by a pedestrian plaza with free WiFi that would function as a "civic gateway." The billboard structure is more of a sculpture, and its appearance changes depending on the direction from which it's being viewed. Also, since it's made out of brushed aluminum, it's " a fully recyclable structure." Bonus.

Orange Barrel Media/Tom Wiscombe Architecture/MoCA

This team's Sunset Media Monolith is a callback to "deep urban archetypes" like bell towers and obelisks that historically have served as community gathering spots. The exterior, "outer shell" of the Monolith would mix LEDs, video projections, and dramatic lighting "integrated into a custom-patterned perforated metal skin." The shell would feature video art curated by MoCA, "spontaneous cultural events," and advertising, though 75 percent of the Monolith's surface area would be "reserved for non-commercial content." The interior of the structure would feature artsy "dark media" items like "superstar face mashups, unstructured social media, and glitchy data streams."

Outfront Media/ Gensler/MAK Center

This team's Unfolding Media project would use multiple billboard-type flat screens to deliver a kind of collage of information. Sometimes, that might mean large images running across all the panels; other times, that could mean each individual panel displaying its own unique mix of ads, social media, and art. Unfolding Media would also change depending on the direction from which it's approached and seen. Moving toward the west, "the amalgam of panels gradually merge into a single image and then fragment as one moves toward and then past them." Moving east, it would show art and images curated by the MAK Center for Art and Architecture.

Tait Towers Inc.

Tait's Bowtie sign is a throwback to the era when the Strip was the home of celeb-favored supper clubs like Ciro's. The giant kinetic sign would be able to transform into a variety of eye-catching shapes (a wave, a helix, a spiral) and would change colors in synchronicity with the sign's movement. The transformations would actually be necessary for the ad screen to change content, so the flashy movement is functional, as well as nice to look at.